Globalfoundries’ $6 billion Upstate New York Chip Plant Could Become Apple’s New SoC Fab

CNET’s Brooke Crothers reports that Globalfoundries’ spanking-new $6 billion semiconductor plant/campus in Saratoga County, N.Y. is ready to make world-class chips for smartphones and tablets, but has no big customers as yet. However, speculation surfaced Friday that Apple is considering Globalfoundries as a possible maker of its chips, or even as a partner in a joint venture.

Apple is expected to dump Samsung, its longtime mobile SoC fabrication partner, next year, and switch in part to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Companymanufactured silicon. However, Crothers notes that Apple could theoretically, switch with relative ease to GF because “Globalfoundries and Samsung have the same technology foundation based on an IBM joint development agreement,” according to one source, and that whatever happens, it’s probably likely that Apple is seriously thinking about moving some production to GF.

Globalfoundries To Build R&D Facility in New York to Accelerate Advanced Manufacturing Technologies for Global Customers

Globalfoundries has announced plans to build a multi-billion dollar R&D facility at its Fab 8 campus in Saratoga County, N.Y. The new Technology Development Center (TDC) is expected to play a key role in the company’s strategy to develop innovative semiconductor solutions allowing customers to compete at the leading edge of technology.

The TDC will feature more than a half million square feet of flexible space to support a range of technology development and manufacturing activities, including cleanroom and laboratory space. Representing an investment of nearly $2 billion, the facility will increase the total capital investment for the Fab 8 campus to more than $8 billion. Construction of the TDC was to begin in early 2013 with completion targeted for late 2014. Since breaking ground on Fab 8 in 2009, Globalfoundries has created approximately 2,000 new direct jobs and that number is expected to grow by another 1,000 employees for a total of about 3,000 new jobs by the end of 2014.

The TDC will house a variety of semiconductor development and manufacturing spaces to support the transition to new technology nodes, as well as the development of innovative capabilities to deliver value to customers beyond the traditional approach of shrinking transistors. The overarching goal of the TDC is to provide a collaborative space for Globalfoundries to develop end-to-end solutions covering the full spectrum of silicon technology, from new interconnect and packaging technologies that enable three-dimensional (3D) stacking of chips to leading-edge photomasks for Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography and everything in between.

Video: Why Globalfoundries at 28nm? here:

“As the industry shifts from the PC era to a market focused on mobile devices, we have seen increasingly strong interest from customers in migrating to advanced nodes on an accelerated schedule,” said Globalfoundries CEO Ajit Manocha. “To help facilitate this migration, we are making significant investments in strengthening our technology leadership, including growing our workforce and adding new capabilities to make Fab 8 the hub of our global technology operations. New York State’s continued support of the semiconductor industry has created a strong collaborative ecosystem and helped pave the way for this additional investment. The new TDC will help us bridge between the lab and the fab by taking research conducted with partners and further developing the technologies to make them ready for volume manufacturing.”

“This significant expansion demonstrates that the investments we have made in nanotechnology research across New York State are producing the intended returnthe creation of high-paying jobs and generation of economic growth that is essential to rebuilding our state,” commented Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “New York has become the world’s hub for advanced semiconductor research and now, the Technology Development Center will further help ensure the innovations developed in New York, in collaboration with our research institutions, are manufactured in New York.”

“The future economic prosperity and security of the American economy depends on sustaining the nation’s capacity to innovatethat is, to translate our investments in research into new products for the market and new solutions for national missions,” said Dr. Charles W. Wessner, director of the National Academies’ Innovation Program. “As a major new Academies’ reportRising to the Challenge: U.S. Innovation Policy for the Global Economyhas documented, other nations are focused on developing greater capacity to translate research into marketable products and we need to make smart investments to ensure innovation and manufacturing continue to be ‘made in America’. New York State’s public investments to develop CNSE as a hub of innovation coupled with the private investments of Globalfoundries are prime examples of best practices for public-private partnerships linking research, innovation and production that have made New York a globally recognized center of innovation.”

Located at the Luther Forest Technology Campus in the heart of upstate New York’s “Tech Valley,” Fab 8 is being developed as the most advanced semiconductor foundry campus in the world. Construction on the Fab 8 project began in July 2009 and the company has successfully brought up the new fab on schedule, hitting all major development, operations, and customer milestones. Today the Fab 8 campus includes approximately two million square feet of development. In addition to investments in manufacturing production on established technology nodes, Globalfoundries has also been making significant investments in technology development at the Fab 8 campus, and today development is underway at the 20nm and 14nm technology nodes.

The Fab 8 campus is an ideal home for the company’s leading-edge technology development activities. The proximity of the IBM Joint Development Alliance activities in East Fishkill and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at the University of Albany, combined with the growing presence of technology development personnel on the Fab 8 campus, have helped make New York’s “Tech Valley” a global center for next-generation technologies.

Globalfoundries Details 14nm-XM FinFET Technology Performance, Power and Area Efficiency with a Dual-core Cortex-A9 Processor Implementation

In February at the Common Platform Technology Forum, Globalfoundries announced results from the industry’s first implementation of a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor using three-dimensional 14nm-XM FinFET transistors. Based on the industry standard design implementation flows and sign-off simulations using real process data, Globalfoundries expects that a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor manufactured on Globalfoundries 14nm-XM technology will deliver more than twice the energy efficiency of a similar 28nm-SLP technology based design, while requiring only half the chip area.

Globalfoundries used technical specifications from its 14nm-XM process design kit (PDK) combined with ARM Artisan standard-cell libraries and memories to release a Graphic Database System (GDS) file that has been used to calculate expected performance, power and area metrics. The results were compared to a silicon implementation of a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor manufactured on Globalfoundries 28nm-SLP technology.

Some of the salient aspects ascertained through the simulation are:

• High-performance, energy-efficient ARM processors implemented on 28nm-SLP typically use 12-track libraries. However at 14nm-XM FinFET technology, much higher performance and more energy-efficient ARM processors can be implemented using 9-track libraries resulting in further die-size reductions.
• At constant power, the frequency achieved with 14nm-XM technology based implementation (using 9-track libraries) is expected to be 61% faster than the frequency achieved with 28nm-SLP technology based implementation (using 12-track libraries).
• At constant frequency, the power consumed by 14nm-XM technology based implementation is expected to be 62% lower than the power consumed by 28nm-SLP technology based implementation.
• The performance-power efficiency of 14nm-XM technology based implementation (expressed as DMIPs/milliwatts) is anticipated to be more than twice that of the 28nm-SLP technology based implementation, while using half the silicon area.

“Our deep collaboration with ARM is continuing to pay off as we work together to optimize ARM IP for our leading-edge process technology,” said Mike Noonen, executive vice president of marketing , sales, design and quality at Globalfoundries. Our 14nm-XM FinFET technology is designed for the next generation of mobile devices, making it a perfect fit for ARMs energy-efficient processor technology. Our mutual customers will benefit extensively from this partnership as they design a range of products for the mobile, tablet and computing applications of tomorrow.

These preliminary results illustrate the potential benefits of FinFET technology applied to an ARM processor-based system-on-chip (SoC), said Dr. Dipesh Patel, executive vice president and general manager, Physical IP Division at ARM. Early collaboration on manufacturing process technologies allows Globalfoundries and ARM to identify and address SoC design challenges and reduce risks to adoption by our mutual customers.

Globalfoundries is owned by the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC). For more information, visit:

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