globalfoundries fab 8
GlobalFoundries fab 8, Malta, NY

GlobalFoundries has announced that they are expanding their NY Fab 8 facility. The are intending to have a new facility beside the existing one with the goal of making maybe 20,000 wafers per month. GlobalFoundries initially will invest $1 billion to start the assembly of the new facility but over time the full cost will be a few billion dollars. The Fab 8 expansion is focused on 12nm manufacturing.

IBM sued GlobalFoundries when they failed to migrate to 10nm or even 7nm. IBM was not impressed after investing $1,5 billion. GlobalFoundries found the cost of 10nm to be more than they could afford and they were forced to abandon the development efforts. The work on 7nm was not any better however now that technical knowledge is better understood the cost may become more affordable..

Signaling and other I/O circuits perform worse when you shrink them, not better, which is one of the reasons why it has been a challenge creating monolithic dies with ever-shrinking transistor geometries. This is why AMD uses a chiplet design for Ryzen processors. This is also the reason for graphics card designs.

On October 29, 2019, TSMC and GlobalFoundries announced a resolution to the dispute. The companies agreed to a new life-of-patents cross-license for all of their existing semiconductor patents as well as new patents to be filed by the companies in the next ten years. This will reduce GlobalFoundries costs with the Feb 8 expansion.

Speculation that IBM may buy GlobalFoundries stems from the litigation. It’s hard to see what benefit the move to 12nm will have for customers but IBM wanted smaller feature size logic and ended up with Samsung.

Last year was a challenging year for many semiconductor makers because of ingredient shortages, labor shortages, and other supply chain issues, and revenues were only $5.7 billion, down from the $6.2 billion it reported in 2017. GlobalFoundries is not a public company so earnings can only be estimated.

Globalfoundries has two chip factories in Singapore (one on older 200 millimeter wafers and one on current 300 millimeter wafers), two 300 millimeter fabs in Germany, and one 200 millimeter fab and two 300 millimeter fabs in the United States.

There are still a large number of 200mm wafer lines worldwide but eventually the migration to 300mm wafers will offer increased yields. Fab over the last 15 years have almost all adopted 300mm wafers. Intel tried to develop 450mm but the wafer sag was an insurmountable problem.

inside the GlobalFoundries fab 8, Malta, NY