Tag: global foundries

Globalfoundries goes it alone

Silicon wafer - Wikimedia Commons -Globalfoundries (GloFo) which manufactures semiconductors to customers’ designs, is likely to develop 10 nanometre technology in house.

Previously it had struck a deal with Korean giant Samsung to license its 14 nanometre FinFET technology and the partnership has proved lucrative with GloFo winning orders from AMD, Qualcomm, and Apple.

But, according to people who talked to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, GloFo now believes it will be more economical to work on its next generation 10 nanometre technology in house, rather than licensing.

GloFo recently completed the acquisition of IBM’s microelectronics division and that is going to help it to develop leading edge technology.

TSMC is GloFo’s biggest competitor and the race will be on to woo companies including Nvidia to deliver semiconductors with high performance and at good prices, according to the wire.

Recent rumours suggested that Chinese investors are interested in buying GloFo and the Abu Dhabi owners are not averse to such an approach.

GlobalFoundries urges EU to support chip industry

The European Union should do more to support the semiconductor manufacturing or risk losing out on innovation, GlobalFoundries has said, although its status as an impartial observer is, perhaps, questionable.

GloFo CEO Ajit Manocha highlighted the disparity between the incentives other regions give to chip manufacturers, he told Reuters, with the US and Asia able to offer more attractive conditions to companies.

Manocha said that while Asian companies will often give GloFo the red carpet treatment, as well as New York State authorities, Europe is “not playing that role properly”.

Although many of the prominent semi manufacturing firms are based in the East or in the US, Europe has its share of innovative companies Dutch manufacturing equipment firm ASML, for example, has received investment from Intel and Samsung this year, with its technology considered crucial for future chips production. 

According to Manocha, there should be more investment by EU authorities to stimulate production of chips within Europe.  Although this would not generate masses of jobs, Manocha said it would mean reaping the benefits of chip technology created by European companies which are often attracted by foreign countries offering attractive tax breaks.  This would also encourage more an environment for wider innovation, he said.

Although there is manufacturing in the EU by the region’s largest chip firm STMicro, it would benefit from the same drive that has seen increased investment in New York State, for example.

Of course, Manocha would say this. He runs a chip company.

TSMC to spend $2.4 billion on capacity expansion

TSMC has been given the go ahead to spend $2.4 billion on expanding its advanced chip process production, as well as constructing a new fab.

Following a board of directors meeting, the Taiwanese mega-foundry was granted permission by the board to “expand and upgrade” production of its most advanced process 28nm chips.

The decision followed a meeting regarding TSMC’s July sales results which showed an increase of 37.3 percent from the same point the previous year, hitting $1.6 billion for the month.

Supply of 28nm chips has been tight for many customers as TSMC continues to ramp up production. In the second quarter, 28nm chips accounted for seven percent of total wafer revenues. So with sales up and strong demand for its advanced process chips, it seems that the board at TSMC is happy to expand production.

The board also gave the nod for $378 million to be spent on building a new fab as well as fitting it with the appropriate facilities.

The details are scant so far, and it was not clear in the statement when the fab construction would begin, though it is likely that the any building would support production of chips at more advanced process. The chip maker is set to begin 20nm production next year. 

TSMC recently announced its intentions to begin development at the 20nm process with ARM on FinFET server chip designs.  ARM later announced it would be extending its partnership with GlobalFoundries.

GloFo catches up to TSMC's ARM 20nm tapeout

GloFo and ARM have made two announcements as the industry inches closer to 20 nanometre chip territory.

The two firms revealed that they have produced a 20 nm tapeout, paving the way for Cortex-A series SoCs.  Using GloFo’s 20nm platform it is expected to produce chips with performance levels of up to 35 percent greater and with half the power of 28nm chips. ARM has also already completed a tapeout with GloFo rival TSMC on a 20nm chip back in October.

Also part of the Technology Qualification Vehicle, the development strategy for Cortex chips from 32nm down to 20nm, was a test version of the 28nm Cortex-A9 processor.

The dual core chip will hit frequencies of up to 2.5Ghz and is based on wafers using the 28nm process in GloFo’s Dresden fab.  It is expected that the chip will have low active power, with an operating point of 0.85V.  According to an announcement made by the two firms, the 28nm A9 is “more than just a test chip” and will enable a quicker route to production. 

It is thought that GloFo’s 28nm process should start producing chips sometime next year, though no specifics were given for volume production of the test chip. It is aso generally thought that 20nm chips are likely to see the light of day around 2014.

According to ARM VP Simon Segars, the chip serves as a foundation for “next-generation mobile and high-end consumer devices”, which will put the pressure on another renowned chip manufacturer’s own foray into mobile chip production.


AMD hands extra Fusion chip production to TSMC

AMD appears to be throwing production contracts over to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co for its Fusion chips.

It had been expected that AMD ship five million chips of its C and E families of APUs, but due to excessive demand AMD has had to call in a second source for its production.

This means it has turned to TSMC rather than GloFo to deal with the extra production.  It is reported that AMD will be chucking the work on its Desna tablet chips over to TSMC too as it expands its APU range.

Better than expected sales of its APUs has meant that it can up its revenue expectations for the third quarter after large shipments in the second quarter.  This means a rise to between 8-12 percent, higher than the 8 percent median expected by the industry.

The contracts will see rollouts of updated versions of the C and E series, codenamed Ontario and Zacate, writes CENS.  The ranges will be aimed at squarely at the boom in mobile computing, and so ultrabooks and netbooks, as well as use in all-in-one desktops.

The new chip families will feature improved high definition graphics and memory, and will support DDR3 1333MHz memory chips meaning ability to upgrade video display quality.

Power efficiency management will supposedly allow 12 and 10.5 hours of charge for the C and E processors respectively.

Samsung, GloFo go for 28 nanometre HKMG process

Korean giant Samsung and foundry GlobalFoundries said they are synchonising efforts at four fabs worldwide to offer 28 nanometre (High-K Metal Gate) HKMG technology.

The companies said the technology – dubbed 28nm-LPH, is specifically targeted at mobile devices and both companies claim it will offer 60 percent active power reduction at the same frequency or 55 percent performance gain using the same leakge over low power system on a chip designs.

The synchronisation will take place at GLoFo’s Fab 1 in Dresden and its Fab 8 in New York state; as well as at Samsung’s S1 in Giheung and its expanded fab S2 in Austin, Texas.

The companies first announced their intent to cooperate last year, but now it appears the low power tech is tested and design enabled with standard cell libraries, memory compilers and complex IP blocks.

The companies describe the collaboration as a virtual fab and both Samsung and GlobalFoundries claim a global footprint largest in the world for leading edge capacity.

GlobalFoundries chief competitor is Taiwanese foundry TSMC, and the move can be seen as an attempt to head off competition from the giant.

Jay Min, VP of LSI foundry marketing at Samsung Electronics said that the 28nm tech will be first semi tech to eliminate borders between desktops and mobile devices.

AMD reassures partners about Llano supply glitch

AMD is having some trouble in churning out its newest Llana processors, but is reassuring partners that the supply chain will be fixed as soon as September.

According to Digitimes’ friends in the motherboard manufacturing sphere, there is a problem relating to yield rates in the 32nm process.

However, AMD’s reassurances are working and spurring industry demand for A75 motherboard shipments.

There are a ton of orders AMD needs to fill in the channel. Llano APUs were squeezed in July because of weaker than expected 32nm process yields. Essentially there is a lot of demand for the well received Llano that AMD has struggled to meet in the channel.

AMD will boost its portfolio with three 65W APUs towards the end of the third quarter, the sources claim. They will be the A8-3800, A6-3600 and A6-3500.

Meanwhile 28nm chips from AMD Nvidia and Qualcomm, though ready for the channel, there is weak demand so they’ll probably be introduced at a later date, Digitimes says.  Llano processors are manufactured by GlobalFoundries (GloFo), a spun-off unit of AMD.

AMD readies torrent of Llano microprocessors

Chip underdog Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is readying a slew of Fusion based products in a bid to undermine Intel’s firm grip on the X86 market.

According to a report on Taiwanese wire Digitimes, the company will introduced six 32 nanometre Llano chips in the third quarter of this year. AMD describes these as APUs – basically graphics functions are integrated with microprocessor functions, so the chips emulate the human brain in a way, in that our eyes are pretty much integrated with the grey matter inside our skulls.

Llano microprocessors are fabricated by GlobalFoundries (GloFo), spun off by AMD to save money and funded by the government of Abu Dhabi.

According to Digitimes, AMD will roll out the chips at Taiwanese annual jamboree Computex. Six Llano chips will appear in desktops in the third quarter while AMD will roll out another five chips in the fourth quarter.

It will also release three Zacate semiconductors, says Digitimes, here.  AMD is still looking for a CEO after it displaced Dirk Meyer earlier this year.

TSMC still top dog in foundry industry

Global Foundries may have a chance of catching up with the Goliath that is TSMC, but it won’t be for a good few years yet, analysts have said.

The comments from Malcolm Penn, an analyst at Future Horizons, follow a report by DodgyTimes sorry DigiTimes, which found that Taiwan’s foundry industry accounts for an estimated 68.5 percent of global foundry revenues in 2010.

It added that China account for 12-13 percent, bringing the share of Greater China to over 80 percent.

However, it warned that the region faces vigorous challenges from the likes of Samsung and GloFo. The competition will force TSMC and UMC to step up their game for expanding 12-inch wafer capacity.

The research concluded that the output value of Taiwan’s foundry industry will reach $22.14 billion in 2013, while the Chinese foundry industry may top $4.45 billion.

FutureHorizons’ Mr Penn told TechEye: “This report seems to be fairly accurate. TSMC alone already holds half the market share and therefore it makes sense UMC has around a quarter.”

However, he pointed out that the predicted China percentage looked to be “a little bit on the high side,” despite this, he said this in a way is “irrelevant”.

“China doesn’t have the high tech processes to compete with the likes of TSMC, which really has a technology of its own. It’s taking over this industry. The only competitors it has is Samsung, although it’s not taken that seriously in the market and people are suspicious, and Global Foundries.

“Global Foundries has the potential to be strong competition for TSMC but it has a few years to go until it can do this. The dominance could be seen as good for the industry but then TSMC has to be careful that it doesn’t dominate too much, or there is a danger that the industry could become distorted – like the microprocessor industry, which is dominated by Microsoft and Intel.” 

AMD to supply electric vehicles for Texas employees

AMD has announced that it has installed three ChargePoint electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for employees at its ‘Lone Star’ campus in Austin, Texas, with additional stations planned at its Sunnyvale campus in Silicon Valley in Spring 2011.

The ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations, manufactured  by Coulomb Technologies, are installed with the aim of helping employees seek sustainable travel and cost effective commuting options, as well as aiming to boost the EV market.  The ChargePoint network technology will allow AMD to measure usage and control access where necessary. 

The charging stations in Austin have the capability to charge six vehicles simultaneously, delivering 100 percent renewable energy.  The charge stations have dual outputs that charge the vehicles, a 7.2 kW output  delivering Level II (208/240 VAC @ 30A) charging via a SAE J1772 connector and fixed 18-foot cable, and a 2 kW output delivering Level I (120 VAC @ 16 A) charging via a NEMA 5-20 receptacle protected behind a locking door.

Employees will be able to navigate towards the charging station using a smartphone, although if this happens to be at their workplace you would hope they wouldn’t need too much assistance finding their way, while Google Maps can be used to detect availability.  The ChargePoint Network also allows EV trip mapping, driver billing, 24/7 driver assistance, and greenhouse gas and energy savings measurement.

However, while the backslapping between AMD and Coulomb is so gleefully enthusiastic it can be nearly be heard across the pond, we should not getting too carried away with the ‘green credentials’ of a multi-national manufacturer, and one of the of the world’s largest producers of processors, when it pays for a small number of rechargeable vehicles.