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GlobalFoundries to develop 7/10nm process tech in-house

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:10nm? 7nm? 14nm FinFET? process technology? node?

GlobalFoundries will no longer rely on licensing from Samsung as it moves to develop 10nm process technology on its own, according to a DigiTimes report citing unnamed sources.

The two Asian companies collaborated last year to deliver production capacity for 14nm process technology. Samsung developed the said technology and then licensed it to GlobalFoundries.

According to the said sources, the world's second largest chip foundry believes it is more expensive to pay licensing fees to Samsung than use IBM's IPs to develop its own fabrication process.

Earlier in July, GlobalFoundries finalised the acquisition of IBM's Microelectronics business following final approval by U.S. regulators. With the acquisition, the Taiwan-based company gains differentiated technologies to enhance its product offerings in key growth markets, from mobility and Internet of Things (IoT) to Big Data and high-performance computing.

GlobalFoundries and Samsung partnered to win 14nm chip orders from AMD, Qualcomm and Apple. But after realising that the collaboration with the South Korean giant is not a cost-effective strategy, the former has opted to develop its 10nm process technology in-house.

The two beat TSMC in the 14/16nm FinFET race, but the latter improved the yield rate of its 16nm FinFET fast, ramping up its process production exponentially. This spells trouble for GlobalFoundries as Qualcomm and AMD might shift to TSMC for their chip orders.

7nm process technology

Apart from 10nm, GlobalFoundries is also working on its 7nm fabrication process, KitGuru reported, adding that the company is relying on IBM's Microelectronics unit to help it to design the leading-edge manufacturing process.

"We're developing our own technologies for the next nodes," Sanjay Jha, GlobalFoundries CEO, told EE Times. "The whole point of the IBM Microelectronics business acquisition is to leverage IBM's technologists and technology to accelerate our own development of leading-edge process technologies."

Previously, there were rumours that China-based investors were eyeing GlobalFoundries. Hua Capital Management, which manages China's national IC investment fund, has reportedly approached the Taiwan-based foundry over possible cooperation. And there have been some signs in recent years that Abu Dhabi's interest in GlobalFoundries is waning, which could make the approach welcome.

GlobalFoundries is owned by Mubadala Development Company PJSC, an investment vehicle of the government of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Such a move would provide China with a key element in the modern high-volume semiconductor ecosystem and could potentially accelerate its progress to 14nm FinFET production and beyond.

However, DigiTimes' sources said that since Samsung licenses its 14nm FinFET technology to GloubalFoundries, the Korean company would not let such a deal sell its technology.

- Stephen Padilla

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