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GlobalFoundries: Think Global, Work Local

This has been an active week for big foundry announcements.  On March 2, 2009 Intel/TSMC announced an MOU to collaborate on technology and IP infrastructure for SoCs.  At the same time, AMD announced it had closed their deal with Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC) and Mubadala Development Company of Abu Dhabi. Within 24 hours, GlobalFoundries was launched.  GlobalFoundries is a new business formed through the spinoff of AMD’s manufacturing operations.  The company will provide manufacturing services to AMD as well as offer services to third-party customers.   

Semico Spin

Most observers would wonder why any company would want to enter the foundry business at this time in our world and industry downturn.  What will differentiate GlobalFoundries from TSMC, Chartered, Samsung or UMC?  Those companies are struggling to get capacity utilization back up.  Going after blue chip, high volume customers is already an established strategy among the large foundries.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they established a foundry in the U.S. that enabled innovation and growth opportunities for the fabless companies in the U.S.? 

During the next year to 18 months, many of the quality people who have been laid off will most likely direct their creative minds on new ideas that will turn into new semiconductor companies.  If GlobalFoundries could set up an internal group that evaluated new products from innovative fabless companies and provide them with manufacturing capabilities, it would certainly be a win-win for the industry and all parties involved.  And it would get the foundry business back into the specialty that built TSMC. 

TSMC enabled a whole generation of fabless companies that drove graphics and communications markets.  Most of those fabless companies are based in the U.S.  Having access to some quality manufacturing in the U.S. to support those fabless companies would be a breath of fresh air.