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Global Foundries Completes IBM Semiconductor Acquisition

Global Foundries Completes IBM Semiconductor Acquisition
by Paul McLellan on 07-01-2015 at 4:40 pm

 Today the deal for GlobalFoundries to acquire IBM’s semiconductor division closed, having had regulatory clearance from Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States a couple of days ago. GlobalFoundries is, of course, owned by Mubadala which is owned by the government of the Abu Dhabi, and I have heard that there were some issues with foreign ownership since IBM supplies the US military.

The merged company has five main manufacturing sites with a total capacity of around 7M 200mm equivalent wafers per year (mostly 300mm wafers in fact):

  • East Fishkill NY (previously IBM) running 90nm down to 22nm, with a capacity of 14,000 300mm wafers per month
  • Malta NY (GF’s fab 8) running 28nm down to 14nm and will go lower with 60,000 300mm wafers per month
  • Burlington VT (previously IBM) running 350nm down to 90nm with a capacity of 40,000 200mm wafers per month
  • Dresden Germany (GF, the old AMD fab) running 45nm down to 28nm with a capacity of 60,000 300mm wafers per month
  • Singapore (GF, previously Chartered) running 180nm down to 40nm with a capacity of 68,000 300mm wafers and 93,000 200mm wafers per month

The company is now structured into 3 business units:

  • CMOS platforms BU, with a broad technology portfolio across leading-edge and mainstream nodes (I think this is mostly GF’s existing business)
  • RF BU, accelreating RF leadership and manufacturing with technologies such as RFSOI, RFCMOS and SiGe (I think this is the IBM RF business)
  • ASIC BU, with the richest portfolio in the foundry industry of IP for wired, wireless infrastructure applications (I think this is the old IBM ASIC business)

To quote directly from the press release:In RF, GLOBALFOUNDRIES now has technology leadership in wireless front-end module solutions. IBM has developed world-class capabilities in both RF silicon-on-insulator (RFSOI) and high-performance silicon-germanium (SiGe) technologies, which are highly complementary to GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ existing mainstream technology offerings. The company will continue to invest to deliver the next generation of its RFSOI roadmap and looks to capture opportunities in the automotive and home markets.

In ASICs, GLOBALFOUNDRIES now has technology leadership in wired communications. This enables the company to provide the design capabilities and IP necessary to develop these high-performance customized products and solutions. With increased investments, the company plans to develop additional ASIC solutions in areas of storage, printers and networking. The most recent ASIC family, announced in January and built on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 14nm-LPP technology, has been well accepted in the marketplace with several design wins.

 I had a phone call this afternoon with Mike Cadigan. He was formerly (well, until yesterday I guess) General Manager of IBM Microelectronics Division, and is now head of the Product Management Group at GlobalFoundries.

Mike said that as part of IBM their semiconductor offering had been reined in by the reluctance to invest in both product solutions (R&D) and capacity (basically capital for manufacturing). With the acquisition those technologies should be more widely available to the merchant market.

The company now has 16,000 patents and has a rich portfolio of technology not just in silicon but also in packaging, materials, manufacturing knowledge and more.

Processes will now be developed with early research done in Albany and then moved into the Malta fab 8. I asked Mike about next generation process (10nm) since IBM has historically done a lot of work on SoI. He said that SoI will continue to be important, especially for RF where IBM has historically been strong, down to 14nm. But moving forward they will have a high-performance bulk solution that the combined IBM/GF team will develop. Remember that GF licensed 14nm from Samsung. All 3 companies historically were part of the Common Platform which gradually seems to have faded away, but it is not inconceivable that there will still be 10nm collaboration.

Another aspect of the deal is that GlobalFoundries will be a partner with IBM (the non-semiconductor part) for ten years to provide the most advanced semiconductor solutions including access to the $3B in advanced semiconductor research that IBM is continuing to do. I asked about the design automation tools. Those seem to be remaining in IBM although there is an intention that anything needed will be shared.

The press release is here. A presentation on GlobalFoundries post acquisition is here (pdf).


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