GlobalFoundries breaks ground on new Singapore semi facility targeting automotive, 5G chips

I node what you'll do in summer 2023

The surge in semiconductor investment continues to accelerate, with New York-based GlobalFoundries breaking ground on a new $4bn Singapore facility that will produce chips for legacy nodes.

The company said it expects the facility to be fully operational by the end of 2023, and produce in the region of 450,000 300mm wafers annually. This would bring its total Singapore output to 1.5 million wafers a year.

The new foundry would include 23,000m2 of cleanroom space and new administrative offices, in the process creating 1,000 new jobs. GlobalFoundries chief Tom Caulfield said it would target "growth areas" including 5G and artificial intelligence, as well as other more conventional sectors, including the automotive space.

This hasn't come as much of a surprise: In 2018, the New York semiconductor maker opted to cease development of its 7nm-process node, as it steered towards specialist processes intended for specific use-cases, such as RF chips, embedded memory, and low-power microcontrollers.

This decision sparked a bitter legal dispute with IBM, which had previously agreed to sell its chipmaking division to GlobalFoundries, in the belief that it would provide the processors that would ultimately go into its next generation of servers and supercomputers. A repeatedly delayed production roadmap, as well as GlobalFoundries' withdrawal from the bleeding edge, forced Big Blue to turn to Samsung instead.

car 5g tech

The second half of 2020 saw more cars sold than expected

The decision to target the transportation sector is likely a prudent one. As previously noted by The Reg, the automotive sector has suffered from a chronic shortage of crucial semiconductor components, which has stymied its recovery from the pandemic. In the period after the start of the pandemic, car manufacturers opted to cancel or defer their existing orders, in the mistaken belief that consumer confidence would take longer to recover than it actually did.

The re-opening of economies in the second half of 2020 saw a flood in new car purchases.

With most automotive manufacturers relying on just-in-time manufacturing processes, any inventory was quickly exhausted. Meanwhile, demand from the consumer and IT sector snapped up any remaining semiconductor capacity, and production facilities began facing issues of their own, from a freak fire at Japanese automotive chipmaker Renesas to a shutdown of NXP and Samsung facilities in Texas caused by a winter storm.

GlobalFoundries has also committed to expanding capacity at its foundries in upstate New York and Dresden, Germany. In March, the company said it would spend $1.4bn on existing facilities, with the aim to increase capacity by 13 per cent this year and 20 per cent by 2022. A significant chunk of this investment would come from customers, who reportedly committed to prepaying for future orders.

Although GlobalFoundries did not name any customers, one likely suspect is AMD, which agreed to minimum purchase quantities of semiconductors on trailing nodes, with the caveat that it would wiggle out of its exclusivity deal for chips produced on the 12nm and 14nm process nodes. AMD has agreed to buy at least $1.6bn worth of wafers.

GlobalFoundries is largely owned by Abu Dhabi investment firm Mubadala. The company is expected to IPO later this year, with a reported valuation of $20bn. ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022