Tag: Globalfoundries

Could the Chinese snap up GloFo?

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsThe Chinese government has a policy of building up its own semiconductor manufacturing and now a leading electronics pundit has suggested that by putting in a bid for Abu Dhabi firm Globalfoundries (GloFo) it could be “pushing at an open door”.

Peter Clarke, writing in Electronics Times, points to the fact that a Chinese consortium will raise £23 billion to buy US memory company Micron – a deal that the US government is likely to oppose. And another consortium wants to buy sensor manufacturer Omnivision.

Clarke bases his analysis on a story in Taiwanese daily Digitimes and he believes that Abu Dhabi isn’t as interested in developing its own semiconductor industry as it once was.

GloFo was spun off as a separate company by AMD some years ago, and the acquisition of its technology would take China a long way towards establishing itself as a major global player in the industry.

Further, GloFo, as Clarke points out, is a private company and wouldn’t face the kind of regulatory scrutiny that a Micron acquisition would face.

GlobalFoundries becomes an IBM supplier

IBM logoAs we reported yesterday, the US government cleared the acquisition of IBM’s semiconductor business by GlobalFoundries (GloFo).

And today IBM announced that that would mean to its future business.

GloFo will become IBM’s exclusive semiconductor supplier for the next 10 years – so it will make its POWER chips that go into Big Blue servers.

It’s not the end of the story for IBM semiconductor engineers, however. IBM Research will carry on doing semiconductor and material science and that will help the company to continue selling mainframes, storage and POWER systems to aid it in its push into cloud, big data and analytics systems.

IBM said that its semiconductor and material research has delivered important technology including copper chips, silicon germanium and quantum computing.

It’s good news for GloFo. The Abu Dhabi based company, which acts as a foundry to produce semiconductors for its customers, also gains access to leading IBM technology, including its state-of-the-art fabrication plant (fab) in New York State.

Cloud passes over central Europe

Clouds over the Old Power Station, OxfordAs IBM announced that the US government had approved the sale of its semiconductor business to GlobalFoundries (GloFo),the company said that its current focus on cloud computing is paying off in central and eastern Europe.

IBM decided some years back that it was foolish spending billions on state of the art fabrication plants (fabs) when its one time rival Intel was beating it on all fronts. And it has concentrated on getting rid of other non-core businesses too.

Now IBM seems to be all about the cloud and according to a claim it made today, startups and thriving businesses are adopting IBM cloud technology in their droves. This could be bad news for Microsoft, which seems to have decided it’s a cloud company too.

IBM quoted the International Monetary Fund as saying that the economy has begun to recover in central and eastern Europe.

IBM said that a number of organisations across the region have adopted IBM Cloud, including in Russia, in the Czech Republic, in Slovenia and in Poland.

The company did not say what type of revenue such business was generating, but if its cloud business generates as much money as IBM generates press releases about the cloud, then it’s doing quite well, thank you very much.

Intel lays claim to the internet of fangs

After realising that it’s a bit behind the rest of the semiconductor world, Chipzilla (tick: INTC) has rolled out some marchitecture and claiming it’s still on the roadmap – especially about the internet of things/fangs.

Last week Intel was accused of fabricating data about its gate sizes, while Moore’s Law was called into question. To be fair, Samsung, GlobalFoundries (GloFo) and TSMC were also accused of fabricating data too.

Fangs ain’t what they’re used to be, but Intel rolled out a number of products which it hopes will bring revenues real soon now.

Those include the Atom Bay Trail E3800, some gateway stuff that uses software from McAfee and Wind River.

Intel still uses a capital “I” for the internet and Ton Steenman, VP of Intel’s intelligent systems group rolled out the perfect storm of a marchitecture statement.

Steenman was made to say by the PR spinners: The Internet of Things consists of a wide range of Internet-connected devices, from a simple pedometer to a complex CT scanners.  The true value in the Internet (sic) of Things is realized (sic) when these intelligent devices communicate and share data with each other and the cloud, uncovering information and actionable insight that can transform business. As a leader in computing solutions from the device to the datacenter, Intel is focused on driving intelligence in new devices and gateways to help connect the billions of existing devices.”

Now what can all that mean? No-one from Intel was available for comment at press time.

Neelie Kroes talks up European tech initiative

Neelie Kroes, European commissioner for digital agenda, made a cameo appearance here at IEF 2013, in the initiative dubbed the Airbus of Chips.

In a short video, she said Europe had to pool its resources in the initiative, launched in May, with an ambitious roadmap intended to double semiconductor production here in a bid to catch up with the USA.

The real name of the project is the Public Private partnership on electronic components and systems – or Ecsel for short.

Khalil Rouhana, VP of the Digital Agenda, European Commissioner, said that the sector is essential for all of the economies in the bloc.

The aim is to reverse the trend of production capabilities in Europe. Europe is good in the automotive market but still manufactures a lot of logic technology. The EC will put 1.2 billion into the partnership, more money into graphene, and more R&D amounting to 3 billion over the next seven years.

The private sector is also expected to contribute to the partnership.

The objectve is to grow semi and smart system manufacturing in Europe, including manufacturing equipment and materials processing. The partnership wants to concentrate on cutting edge tech including 450mm wafers and 10nm process technology.

100 billion is expected to be committed to be R&D by 2020, creating jobs for quarter of a million people directly and indirectly.

Rouhana said that the initiative will really swing into action at the beginning of 2014. His talk prompted a panel discussion involving Intel, GloFo, Samsung, and Xmos.

The GloFo representative said his company endorsed the initiative. Europe has a very strong industrial base and the EC has finally realised that a push is needed. He said the US is driving a move to bring manufacturing back to the country, and Kroes’ initiative is similar.

Xmos CEO, Nigel Toon, representing the SME sector, said it was quite hard to see how small companies could directly benefit.  Rouhana, representing the EC, said it’s putting in place a scheme to link SMEs up with the project. It will put a fast track system in for SMEs with five percent of the budget dedicated to small companies.

Leonard Hobbs, R&D director at Intel Ireland, said the EC ambition was great. The move to larger wafers and smaller process nodes were welcome to Intel, and acknowledge that the company will play a role.

Young Sohn, chief strategy officer of Samsung, said his company has many European collaborators whether in R&D, wireless or analogue.  

Well, this is all very fine and dandy, but are the billions the EC spends going to really reverse the trend?  Which player, for example, is going to want to compete against the likes of Samsung and Intel and TSMC? We’re unlikely to see the non European companies quaking in their boots.  

Qualcomm might ditch TSMC, embrace GloFo

Qualcomm is rumoured to be thinking about shifting SoC production from TSMC to other foundries, namely Globalfoundries.

The company allegedly believes the move would improve its competitiveness and allow it to grow market share. With Qualcomm’s mobile SoC business booming, there should be no shortage of interested foundries.

As Seeking Alpha recently put it, Qualcomm is selling shovels in a goldmine, but it doesn’t build the shovels – TSMC takes care of that. Now that TSMC has apparently landed a lucrative high-volume deal with Apple, Qualcomm might want to look for preferential treatment elsewhere. The report comes from Digitimes, so it’s flavoured with a pinch of salt.

Perhaps the most obvious choice would be Globalfoundries.

After a rather slow start, GloFo’s 28nm process seems to be doing just fine and the AMD spinoff needs all the business it can get.

GlobalFoundries has apparently stepped up development of 20nm and 14nm nodes and it is gearing up to take on TSMC. With Qualcomm on its side, GloFo could become a force to be reckoned with.

GloFo’s new Fab 8 can churn out 60,000 300mm wafers per month and it should lead the way as far as sub-28nm production is concerned.

Globalfoundries and Qualcomm are old chums. They started working together on a range of technologies back in 2010. Qualcomm also picked up ATI’s Adreno graphics team, so they’ve got some family ties as well. This isn’t the first Glofo-Qualcomm 28nm rumour, either.

Could we even end up with something much bigger than a simple foundry deal?

Qualcomm certainly has the cash to acquire a sizable stake in both AMD and Globalfoundries. In fact, Qualcomm could outright buy AMD without breaking a sweat, provided that regulators don’t interfere. Qualcomm could benefit from AMD’s graphics IP and know-how, as it’s facing much stiffer competition in the mobile GPU segment. AMD is also working on ARM A57-based server parts, but it doesn’t want to dabble in consumer SoCs.

On the face of it, all three companies could gain a lot from some sort of long-term strategic partnership, or they could consolidate. But QualFo MicRo Device-O sounds rather like a mouthful. 

Rockchip taps Glofo’s 28nm HKMG process

Peddler of cheap SoCs, Rockchip, is building its next generation chips at Globalfoundries (GloFo). 

The chips are manufactured using Glofo’s 28nm High-K metal gate process and they are based on the A9 core. The process allows them to hit 1.8GHz. The RK3188 and RK3168 are designed with low end tablets in mind and they aren’t really that spectacular by today’s high-end SoC standards.

However, they are one of the first uses of Glofo’s 28nm node for mainstream SoCs and they may be a sign of things to come. Chen Feng, vice president of Rockchip, praised Globalfoundries for its ability to ramp products with very high yields in record time. The chips already sampled to potential customers earlier this year.

Glofo’s 28nm-SLP technology is ideally suited for the next generation of smart mobile devices, enabling designs with faster processing speeds, smaller feature sizes, lower standby power and longer battery life. The technology offers a combination of performance, power-efficiency and cost that are ideally suited for the cost-sensitive mainstream mobile market.

Although Rockchip, MediaTek, Allwinner and other China-based SoC makers aren’t capable of competing in the high end just yet, they are doing quite well and the popularity of cheap white-box tablets in some markets could help them grow and develop rapidly, using off-the-shelf technology and manufacturing.

ARM will make chips

At ARM’s press conference on Monday we were struck by how the company was talking about itself. Almost like a manufacturer.

Well guess what?

A very reliable source tells me that pretty soon now the company will start making chips and is already in advanced talks with a number of Chinese partners.

The thing is, the expertise now exists on the mainland to make SoCs, and at very low cost too.

Who would ever have thought that the plucky little British company ARM would ever find itself in the position of challenging the might of Intel.

It is true, as senior VP Tom Kilroy told us yesterday, that Intel is a clear generation ahead of any of the foundries such as GloFo (Global Foundries) and TSMC, but at what cost?

Well, at a very high cost indeed, numbered in the billions of dollars. 

America faces high tech workforce shortage

Talk of immigration reform in the US has been halted by partisan bickering for years, and it might be about to start taking its toll on the economy, coupled with less than stellar high school education.

New York state faces a shortfall of thousands of skilled techies to sustain the growth of its tech sector and GlobalFoundries (GloFo) is starting to sound the alarm. America’s Edge held an event in Albany on Tuesday and announced that New York faces a shortage of 350,000 mid-level skilled workers by 2018. 

The organisation called for education reform that would enable the US workforce to compete in a truly global marketplace. It wants to see more science, technology, engineering and math introduced at high-school and middle-school levels. America’s Edge believes that seven out of ten jobs created in New York between 2008 and 2018 will require formal education beyond high school, reports The Business Review

The challenge for tech companies is to partner with schools and hook kids on math and science while they’re young. Since tech is now cool rather than geeky, they should have no shortage of willing candidates, but on the other hand it remains unclear whether the schools themselves can deliver what is truly necessary.

GloFo plans $4.4 billion spending spree

GlobalFoundries is planning to expand production and increase its spending this year.

The foundry will spend $4.4 billion this year, up from $3.8 billion in 2012.

The cash will come from internal sources, as well as Mubadala, Globalfoundries’ sugar daddy. The company will continue to expand in all three of its current manufacturing locations – Germany, Singapore and the US, Bloomberg reports.

It is hoped that Globalfoundries will continue its lucky streak and stay in the black this year.

Since AMD managed to get all the significant console wins, Glofo will have to churn out a lot of Jaguar-based APUs. Strong demand for “civilian” versions of the chip are also expected. 

Some analysts already believe that Globalfoundries might become the largest revenue contributor to Mubadala in coming years. The company sold $4 billion worth of wafers last year.