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GlobalFoundries adjusts 32nm SOI roadmap

Posted: 29 Sep 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SOI process? GlobalFoundries roadmap? 32nm?

GlobalFoundries Inc. has updated its process roadmap, which appears to have slipped for its separate 32nm and 45-/40nm offerings. Comparing the new roadmap to the last update, the foundry startup has slightly pushed out the introduction of its 32nm, silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology based on high-k and metal gates.

That process, devised especially for Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s microprocessors, was supposed to move into "tape out" or "risk production" in Q1 10. Now, the technology is targeted for "risk production" in Q3 10.

How that impacts AMD is unclear, although the processor maker could fall further behind Intel Corp. GlobalFoundries denied its roadmap has slipped, however.

In Q2 10, GlobalFoundries was originally supposed to move into "tape out" or "risk production" for its 45-/40nm low-power process. The bulk technology will not include SOI or high-k. Now, that technology will move into "risk production" in Q3 10.

Two other process technology schedules remain unchanged. In Q4 10, the company plans to move into "risk production" for its 28nm generic bulk process, based on high-k. It will not include SOI. In the first quarter of 2011, it hopes to move into "risk production" for a 28nm low-power bulk process, also based on high-k.

GlobalFoundries denied its roadmap has slipped. "Our roadmap for 32nm SOI has not slipped," according to a spokesman for the company. "Yes, the timeframe for introduction has been altered slightly compared to the roadmap we showed you in July, but that is not because of any issues with the technology. The roadmap has simply been adjusted to align with AMD's product needs. We have solid natural yields ramping up every week, and we have high confidence in our ability to demonstrate the same robust yields and manufacturing capability on 32nm that we have historically had."

Meanwhile, to help customers migrate towards the various technologies, GlobalFoundries has rolled out the so-called Virtual IDM program. This is a "design collaboration" program that will help foundry customers in the design-to-manufacturing process.

Despite the apparent slips in the roadmap, GlobalFoundries claims that it is the technology leader in the foundry business. The foundry sector "has a new technology leader," said Jim Ballingall, VP of marketing for GlobalFoundries. "We're two-to-three quarters ahead of the rest of the foundry industry."

Some companies will dispute those claims, namely Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd and United Microelectronics Corp. And needless to say, GlobalFoundries faces some major challenges: It must keep up with those Taiwan rivals and satisfy its big customer in AMD.

Still, GlobalFoundries could change the foundry landscape. The company is the silicon foundry venture created by the spinoff of AMD's manufacturing operations and backed by an investment from Advanced Technology Investment Co. (ATIC) of Abu Dhabi. The pure-play foundry opened for business in March.

Then, as reported, ATIC recently agreed to acquire Singapore-based Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd, for a total of $3.9 billion. Chartered will be folded into GlobalFoundries. The combined entity, to be based in Silicon Valley, will have fabs in Dresden, Germany and Singapore. GlobalFoundries is also building a 300mm fab in upstate New York. In total, the combined company will have 8,500 employees.

The respective technologies from Chartered and GlobalFoundries are "complementary" rather than competitive, Ballingall said. Chartered has been strong at developing 65nm processes and above. The company is also developing a 45-/40nm process. GlobalFoundries is pushing "leading-edge" processes at 45nm and below.

Pooling resources from Chartered and GlobalFoundries will enable the new company to better compete in the tough wafer supply industry with market leader TSMC and others.

Chartered, for one, was struggling to keep up with its rivals from Taiwan and was unable to turn a profit. GlobalFoundries, which emerged before the blockbuster merger, has a 45nm process in production for AMD's processors. But the foundry company's mainstream 45-/40nm foundry process is not expected to roll out until mid-2010roughly a year behind its rivals.

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