The Foundry Company, a contract semiconductor manufacturer controlled by Advanced Micro Devices and Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), plans to manufacture both AMD microprocessors using silicon-on-insulator (SOI) process technology as well as other chips, including ATI Radeon graphics processing units, using bulk fabrication processes.
Modern central processing units (CPUs) are produced using advanced process technologies that utilize features like SOI or high-k metal gate (HKMG) dielectric, whereas graphics chips or processors used in communication equipment are made utilizing bulk manufacturing technologies with low-k dielectrics. Apparently, the Foundry Company will eventually add bulk fabrication processes into its arsenal and will be able to address non-CPU markets.
“The Foundry Company has joined the IBM bulk alliance to address a larger portion of the market. The Foundry Company will scale its capacity to meet the needs of additional customers,” said Drew Prairie, a spokesperson for AMD, adding that GPUs are among chips that the new fabs will be able to make.
Hypothetically, if process technologies developed by IBM’s bulk alliance are better than those developed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), then both ATI, graphics product group of AMD, and Nvidia Corp. may migrate to the Foundry Co. (TFC)
One of the issues that AMD has always had is insufficient manufacturing capacities. For AMD it will crucial to book the adequate amount of manufacturing capacity at TFC in order to produce its own microprocessors. As a result, there are doubts that ATI and Nvidia – the two largest customers of TSMC – will be able to completely transit their manufacturing to the newly formed foundry. Moreover, Nvidia already experienced problems with low yield of IBM’s 130nm bulk process technology coupled with insufficient manufacturing capacities back in 2004.
Actual capacities of upgraded Fab 30/38 as well as existing Fab 36 have not been announced.