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AMD Businesses Hardware

AMD Spin-Off GlobalFoundries Gets First Non-AMD Customer 34

Posted by timothy
from the and-they're-not-virtual-like-transmeta dept.
Vigile writes "Since the company was spun off in March, GlobalFoundries has struggled to answer how it will survive and compete against powers like TSMC and UMC in the global world of chip manufacturing. Part of that answer came today when they announced the company's first customer, excluding AMD. STMicroelectronics will be using GlobalFoundries' 40nm lower power process technology for future cell phone SoC designs in the second half of 2010. While one customer won't drive enough revenue to make the foundry completely independent, it is an important step in the right direction and could lead to other customers finally making the leap."
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AMD Spin-Off GlobalFoundries Gets First Non-AMD Customer

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  • I thought 45nm was the lowest chip size that was being manufactured (at least right now). Am I missing something here?
    • 32nm is just about ready, isn't it?
      Not in use for CPUs yet, but I think some shit is using it.

      • by treeves (963993)
        Since Intel is always ahead in the shrink race, if it were in production now, it would be for CPUs. DRAM process always uses smaller process node than logic, so that doesn't count.
    • For complex processors:

      40nm is currently the smallest process available. It is a half-step between 45nm and 32nm, and TSMC (the world's largest independent foundry) is currently ramping-up production at this node. Global Foundries was previously using 45nm SOI to supply AMD, but in-order to attract customers, they've added the 40nm half-step using bulk silicon (to match TSMC).

      SOI is a no-go for most small companies making chips because the SOI wafers are more expensive to make, AND you have to redesign th

  • So what was the point in spinning off a foundry into a separate company?

    (Same reason any company ever spawns other companies: To create positions for more CXOs and fuck around with the accounting books. AMD isn't doing well, even though I wish it were.)

    • Re:Great (Score:5, Informative)

      by cabjf (710106) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @03:39PM (#28871857)
      To free AMD up to outsource to other foundries, to allow GlobalFoundries to take on outside customers, to prevent losses in one area from affecting total company health, to allow outside investment in either company where the investor would not be interested in the other area of business...
      • To free AMD up to outsource to other foundries, to allow GlobalFoundries to take on outside customers, to prevent losses in one area from affecting total company health, ...

        When times are good for a company like AMD they try to pull their suppliers into a monolith, to insure they can get the supplies they need.

        When times are more iffy they may split up, so if one part of the business gets in trouble it doesn't drag the other down.

        In turbulent economic times (like now) you see both happening at once:

        Companie

      • AMD could have used any FAB it wanted.
        AMD could have made chips for anyone it wanted.

        The other two points are exactly what I said - bullshit, jedi mind trick, hand-waving accounting.

        These aren't the debts and losses you're looking for.

    • It might, aside from who knows what kind of accounting sleight of hand, have the much more concrete value of increasing utilization of the fabs.

      If you want to keep fabs competitive in process technology, they'll be incredibly expensive to build. Every moment that you aren't fabbing chips, you are losing money on that investment. If AMD can't keep their fab utilization up, they'll die(no pun intended). Spinning the fabs off and taking third party orders is, presumably, one way to do that, even if they can
    • If AMD owns a fab and only uses it for its own purposes, any time they don't need anything made, all that expensive equipment sits idle.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)

      So why did they buy ATI, to get rid of CXOs and fuck around with the accounting books?

      It isn't like a a multi-million dollar division is going to be run by that many fewer people.

      • After years of buying nearly 100% AMD, I've decided to throw in the towel. See, I've bought ATI video cards for years because of their good prices and good driver support. (Catalyst) But that's changed, now. As of Linux Kernel 2.6.30, support for "older" cards (including my not-quite 3-year-old laptop with its mobile X14 video card) has been cancelled.

        Fedora Core 10 is the last supported distro that will run on my laptop with good support for 3D. I can't say just how much this pisses me off. I can see drop

    • by Kjella (173770)

      So what was the point in spinning off a foundry into a separate company?

      Funding. Someone was willing to go in with the big bucks in a foundry company, which would be much harder to do inside AMD as a single company. The graphics division of AMD is doing very well though, even though they're getting whipped by Intel on CPUs. Of course the prices to the end users are competitive but the margins aren't since AMD is completely boxed in to value segments. And they have no competitor on the netbook/nettop wave, it's Intel, Intel and more Intel.

      Quite frankly, if I was in the PC indust

    • So what was the point in spinning off a foundry into a separate company?

      (Same reason any company ever spawns other companies: To create positions for more CXOs and fuck around with the accounting books. AMD isn't doing well, even though I wish it were.)

      I know being cynical sounds good "Just more fat cats lining their own pockets, heh", but there are legitimate reasons to restructure companies.

      In this case, foundries keep getting more expensive and AMD won't be able to compete with Intel if it keeps manufacturing in house. If it spins them off (while still retaining ~ 30% of the stock in the new company) they can achieve economies of scale by fabbing chips for other companies. This means that AMD will have a better shot at competing since they will no lo

      • AMD could have always made chips for other companies.

        You stated the real reason.
        FABs were expensive. AMD couldn't compete.
        Now AMD will be getting a special rate at that FAB, so it can compete with Intel, and the shitty finances will transfer over to the FAB company.

        The FAB company will be able to get away with huge losses and debt for a year or two since they're a "new company looking to establish themselves" and other such bullshit. They're wearing a new face in order to try to get new investors.

  • The true purpose of GlobalFoundries is to garner $1.4 Billion (yes, billion) in incentives from NY taxpayers.
    • Yes. $1.4 billion dollars in tax incentives to build a $4.2 billion fab. How could anyone miss this obvious scam of New York? I'm glad we have you here to reveal the clouded truth.
      • The $1.4B is not tax relief but up front cash. Taken from a state budget that has an $11B shortfall. A genius decision.
  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @04:33PM (#28872925)

    ... it seems whenever a chipmaker tries to fab its own parts (3dfx and their own boards when they merged/bought out STB) they end up dying a slow death. The only really that can afford it's own fab is intel and thats because it has the largest marketshare as well as having had leading products for so long.

    • Having its own fabs is also one reason Intel is successful. And outsourcing manufacturing was one reason for the decline of companies like TI and Motorola in the digital IC part of their businesses. Yes getting started in fabrication or any industry is really tough. But running your own fabs, once established successfully, is really valuable in my view. It makes the productive coordination between process, design, and product engineering so much easier.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JorDan Clock (664877)
        But fabs are incredibly expensive. Fab 1 in Dresden has cost something like $6 billion dollars to date, from construction to current upgrades. Plus, you have to account for research and development costs of moving to smaller manufacturing sizes, which according to Intel was something like $600 million to $900 million to move from 45nm to 32nm. For a company like AMD that still has a lot of debt from the purchase of ATI, that's a lot of money. Add to that that the New York fab is estimated to cost $4.2 billi
  • I've got one of them, fun little toy to play with.

    http://www.stm32circle.com/hom/index.php [stm32circle.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    To me this story is a prime example of a tidbit which is worth reading, but doesn't have enough meat on the bones to be a full-blown Slashdot story. Nothing wrong with that -- it just can't generate much interesting discussion. [And I tried moderating, there's just not much anyone can say but "hmmph.".]

    I think Slashdot should have a separate div on the page for tidbits like this. Not that this is the best forum for feedback, consider it a prayer flag in the wind.

  • While the rest will compete for low price. SMIC has all the fabs that rest of the semiconductor manufacturing fabs are going to suffer

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