Globalfoundries: Technologies and Customers
X-bit labs: It is rather well known that the vast majority of chips are produced using rather mature process technologies, e.g. 65nm and older. However, the first bulk process tech Globalfoundries will launch is 32nm tech. Isn’t such a plan too ambitious?
Tom Sonderman: We don’t believe so. 32nm bulk silicon is already running in Dresden and we’ll be ready to accept customer designs later this year with an aggressive production ramp in 2010. We have proved time and time again (90nm, 65nm, 45nm) that we can adopt leading-edge technologies at mature yields as well or better than anyone else in the industry. We expect this trend to continue with 32nm.
X-bit labs: There are not a lot of companies who are utilizing state-of-the-art process technologies. What industries are you primarily targeting with your services?
Tom Sonderman: PC platform technologies (CPUs, GPUs), wireless, game consoles and telecom are a few examples of markets we’re targeting.
X-bit labs: You will launch 32nm bulk process technology later this year at Fab 1 module 2 (ex Fab 38), the same fab is now used solely for production of AMD processors. Will there be enough capacity for AMD and new customers?
Tom Sonderman: We will ramp bulk silicon in our second module in Dresden with our first module (formerly Fab 36) remaining dedicated to SOI and AMD microprocessors.
X-bit labs: Will other customers be able to produce their chips using SOI process technology that AMD uses to make its microprocessors.
Tom Sonderman: We plan to offer SOI to prospective customers should they want this technology.
X-bit labs: What about high-k metal gate (HKMG) dielectric? Will your 32nm bulk process feature this tech?
Tom Sonderman: Yes it will, for both bulk and SOI.
X-bit labs: Do you plan to offer so-called “half-node” process technologies, which are optical shrinks of available fabrication processes?
Tom Sonderman: Yes we do.
X-bit labs: When does AMD plan to start outsourcing its chipset and graphics chip production to Globalfoundries?
Tom Sonderman: We intend on competing for AMD’s graphics business in the 32nm/28nm technology node.
X-bit labs: Will outsourcing to Globalfoundries force AMD’s ATI specialists to design graphics chips using different methods? Will it increase the risks of missed product cycle because performance or yields will not be on the level that they would be comfortable with?
Tom Sonderman: Absolutely not. Our Dresden fabs are regarded as the best in the world for ramping new processes and reaching mature yields. It is our intention to open up these capabilities to AMD’s Graphics Product Group moving forward. We are currently engaged with them to ensure we build the necessary design enablement capabilities to meet their needs.
X-bit labs: Have you already signed any manufacturing agreements with any customers apart from AMD?
Tom Sonderman: We are actively engaging with multiple tier 1 fabless and fablite semiconductor companies who require leading-edge capacity. We’re not ready to announce any new relationships yet.
X-bit labs: AMD has always said that manufacturing processes did not matter to end-users. Will Globalfoundries share the same ideology (even though it is hardly logical for a foundry company) and provide certain non-technology related benefits to its customers?
Tom Sonderman: The manufacturing process is only as important as the product innovation it unlocks. The AMD 45nm process is a great example of this. Our focus is on using our leading-edge technology to enable customers to get more performance, power efficiency and functionality from their products.
X-bit labs: Thank you very much for informative answers!