Manufacturing technology – 32nm, 28nm, 22nm, SOI, Bulk, LP, SiGe...
BSN*: Moving on to manufacturing technology, let's discuss some of hot issues that surround GlobalFoundries and just about any other foundry business out there. Since GF can provide both SOI and bulk, can you give us more details about the future of SOI? As we all know, some companies have openly attacked SOI technology, while AMD and IBM pushed for it. Did anything change between AMD and GlobalFoundries?
Tom: When it comes to subject of Silicon on Insulator, we leave it up to design community to specify where they need to go. IBM and AMD used SOI, but I would say that we have to wait and see where SOI will develop.
There is a lot of interest in GF by getting bulk manufacturing up and running, and future SOI development will be decided. But to make the matters clear, there are fabless companies that wanted to go SOI, but were unable to find a foundry that can provide them with respectable yields. We have best-in-class yields on SOI wafers and the feedback we're receiving from the potential customers is very encouraging.
According to consolidated industry numbers, SOI will grow from a $500M/year to $800M/year industry in 2010. I don't want to negate the point that bulk technology is important. We have over 30 years of expertise with bulk silicon, before Opteron came - everything we manufactured was bulk.
Trend-wise, we see that RF-circuits will move to SOI in lots of different flavors - by bringing the GlobalFoundries foundry model covering both SOI and bulk silicon, we can now offer top notch manufacturing for all customers that could not order large orders from IBM - we don't want to speculate where the market can go, but our technologies are available for our customers.
BSN*: A quick one - what three key technologies are you offering to the consumers?
Tom: High Performance SOI for CPU & GPU, Performance Bulk for GPUs and Low Power bulk for the wireless chips.
Besides High-K touted by Intel, GF is also bringing new iteration of Low-K, dubbed Ultra-Low-K
I would also add that our wafer manufacturing capabilities cannot be described just with the process that we're using. For instance, we are already using SiGe [Silicon-Germanium] wafers with strained technology – we started with micro-strain at 65nm, then moved to macro-strain with 45nm SiGe and we are continuing to improve SiGe. We are on 3rd generation of the technology, and with 32nm we are also going to introduce both High-K and Ultra-Low-K technologies.
BSN*: What is the level of assistance you offer to your customers?
Tom: We can assist with to every customer design, not only for AMD, but to all manufacturers that are interested in it - we have proven our expertise with console CPUs, System-On-Chip designs.
BSN*: With 45nm process, AMD and IBM introduced immersion-lithography. What are any possible future developments?
Tom: Currently, We are on our 45nm using immersion-litho. We are also the biggest supplier of immersion technology on the market, unlike TSMC who was the inventor of immersion-litho. AMD has the history of firsts, just to mention Low-K, Copper interconnects, SOI… we are not first with High-K, but we are bringing something special to the table. Our 45nm process results in significant improvements over industry-standard 45nm process. As the recent success of Phenom II says, GlobalFoundries 45nm results in high clocks and high yields.
At GlobalFoundries, the 32nm process is available in two flavors
At 32nm we definitely see more advantages of High-K materials and we want to make sure we ensure the highest performing technology at high yields. That model proved beneficial in the past with AMD and we'll continue on the same path. We are also introducing a 32nm Ultra-Low-K material to address the other spectrum.
A couple of years ago, while the 130nm process was all the rage, all factories started to experience problems with the yields [percentage of correctly working chips on a wafer]. We perfected the technology and probably had the best-in-class and now working on developing techniques by reducing the amount of silicon needed to bring the technology to market.
Our competitors should be worried because we are attacking from the high-end, not from the low-end. We have leading edge technology. Being in alliance with IBM, we're looking at many ex-techniques in 22nm, 18nm technologies. We're really not disclosing much beyond our high-k efforts, and strained technologies. Just like everybody in the industry, we expect that Sin-Tec technology; 3D transistors will improve the overall performance and availability.
BSN*: You referenced to GPU technology several times. What are you qualifying for GPU production?
Tom: We're qualifying 32nm technology to be GPU-friendly, and customers in the industry are interested in our manufacturing roadmap. We see 32nm and 28nm as the point when we're getting into GPU side of business.
GlobalFoundries predicts a seamless transition between 32nm and 28nm, something that GPU manufacturers will appreciate.
We make all of AMD's products, but for GPUs, we have to go and compete with others. We are global and we're bringing tech that is serving not just the IBM ecosystem, but all the Top20 GSA companies.
BSN*: Tom, I wish to thank you for this extensive interview. We wish you all the best.
Tom: It was my pleasure.
There you have it folks… unlike AMD that was known for keeping a low profile and not coming out with bullish statements. This time around, GlobalFoundries simply doesn't care about being politically correct. These guys know that they have enough Middle Eastern capital to bring back jobs to the American continent and nobody can call them out for that.
Technology wise, GlobalFoundries will bring 32nm this year, volume production in 1Q 2010, with launching a 28nm half-node shrink just a quarter later [1H 2010, but we can say 2Q'10]. With all respect to high profile customers such as AMD, ATI and probably nVidia, but the key battle now is to take customers such as Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, Xilinx, Altera etc.
The business of chip manufacturing just got very, very interesting.
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