There has been quite a bit of coverage on this already but Bosch building a fab in Dresden is a big deal so let me share my experience, observation, and opinion as us bloggers do. The $1.1B question of course is: Why didn’t Bosch invest in GlobalFoundries FD-SOI fabs in Dresden instead? Automotive and IoT is perfect for FD-SOI, right? What is the backstory here? Scoop it in the comments section or email me and I will make it worth your while!
Originally computer systems companies not only designed their own chips, they manufactured them too. My first employer Data General had a fab in Silicon Valley and had OEM customers in the semiconductor industry including two that I worked directly with: Perkin Elmer (E-Beam) and Calma (GDS Stations).
The first thing Data General did after hiring me was send me to the Design Automation Conference (#21DAC) which is how I ended up in EDA and IP. No regrets of course, especially when we went fabless which is documented in our book “Fabless: The Transformation of the Semiconductor Industry”. You can download the PDF version if you are a member.
Back then, systems companies ruled the semiconductor industry, then came the traditional semiconductor companies (IDMS: Intel, TI, Motorola, etc…) which were followed by fabless chip companies. In fact, Qualcomm started as a systems company and may be headed back that way. Intel is also into systems now with the acquisition of Mobileye which is following in the footsteps of IDM Systems company Samsung. The history of Apple, Samsung, and QCOM is in our book “Mobile Unleashed”. You can download the PDF version if you are a member.
Bottom line: We have now come full circle with systems companies like Apple, Huawei, Tesla, and others designing their own chips and driving the semiconductor industry. We also have internet companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc… designing chips for systems. Today these fabless systems companies buy more wafers, EDA tools, and IP than fabless chip companies, absolutely.
Taking things another step back to the future, Bosch is spending $1B+ on a new 12 inch fab. I’m not sure how many fabs they have built in total but they have a 6 inch and an 8 inch facility still in production for ASICs and MEMS that have produced billions of chips for automotive and other electronic systems including IoT (yes IoT). The new fab will be built in Dresden (versus Reutlingen), Germany and will start production in 2021. The target markets are automotive and the fastest growth market which is IoT (yes IoT).
In hindsight, more than 80,000 domains have hit SemiWiki.com and the majority of those are now fabless systems companies. We track: Technologies (FinFET, FD-SOI, Photonics), Vertical Markets (EDA, IP, Foundries, Mobile, IoT, Automotive, Security, and AI), Companies and Events. In addition to domains, Google also provides us with device types, location, age, and even gender. Age is trending down and female is trending up (double digits now) which mirrors what I saw at #54DAC. Geographic breakout is what you might expect with USA #1, Asia #2, and EU #3. Russia was actually #1 if you include hacking attempts… (too soon?)
It is interesting to note that more than 80% of our traffic is desktop and more than 40% is search which to me means people are reading SemiWiki.com at work versus while driving to work. From the time SemiWiki.com went live in 2011 to today more than 2,000,000 users have been recorded so that is a decent sample set. A user is a device not a person but if you do the math about 80% of the users are probably people.