Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

AMD Spin-Off GlobalFoundries Gets First Non-AMD Customer

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the and-they're-not-virtual-like-transmeta dept.

AMD 34

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."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

40 nm process... (1)

abshack (1389985) | more than 5 years ago | (#28871555)

I thought 45nm was the lowest chip size that was being manufactured (at least right now). Am I missing something here?

Re:40 nm process... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28871597)

32nm is just about ready, isn't it?
Not in use for CPUs yet, but I think some shit is using it.

Re:40 nm process... (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 5 years ago | (#28871715)

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.

Re:40 nm process... (0)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 5 years ago | (#28871867)

This varies by the type of chip. AMD's x86 CPUs are currently stuck at 60nm with progress towards 45nm coming soon (3rd and 4th quarters). AMD's (ATI's) GPUs are already using (I believe) a 35nm process. Intel's x86s currently use 45nm and are heading towards 30nm (or is it 32nm?) late this year. This article talks about cell phone chips, not x86 CPUs.

Re:40 nm process... (2, Informative)

downix (84795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28872137)

Really? *looks at his 45nm Phenom II chip humming along* You might want to double check your claim.

Re:40 nm process... (4, Informative)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28873079)

You got a bunch of numbers screwed up. Most of AMD's current desktop and server CPUs are 45 nm (Phenom II, Athlon II, Opteron >2360/8360), while the laptop CPUs are 65 nm and will be going to 45 nm in a couple of months. AMD's GPUs are mostly 55 nm (Radeon HD 3xxx and 4xxx, except the HD 4770) with one 40 nm unit (HD 4770.) Most of Intel's CPUs are 45 nm, but all of the Celerons and some Pentium Dual Core and Core 2 Duo units are still 65 nm. Intel is going to the 32 nm process, but nothing 32 nm from them is going to ship for some time.

Re:40 nm process... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28877991)

While it is true that AMD sells 45nm parts, the important thing in semiconductor economics is volume.
In the last AMD investors conference call the CFO stated that the majority of their volume would flip to 45nm in Q4 of this year and that the vast majority of their revenue last quarter came from 65nm parts. Even if you have a 45nm fab, it takes a LONG time to ramp - ie - to get yields up to the point where you can start really cranking on the volume.

Intel, by most accounts, is 1 to 1.5 years ahead of AMD in process technology.
The gap will only widen as the exponential cost of building fabs will choke out a 2nd tier player since the money comes from volume.

Re:40 nm process... (1)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881193)

It is true that AMD still sells a lot of 65 nm parts (such as all of their notebook chips), but so does Intel. The comment about Intel being ahead of AMD in process technology is a moot point now that AMD proper is a fabless company. They spun off their fabs to GlobalFoundries and are free to use GF or any other foundry to make their processors, such as how they had Chartered Semiconductor to make some of their chips for them in the past. Thus the process technology Intel has means little for AMD unless they have a big advantage over *every* foundry out there.

Re:40 nm process... (1)

Bobnova (1435535) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882571)

Your numbers aren't much better, my Pentium Dual Core e5200's 45nm transistors think you're funny.

Re:40 nm process... (1)

default luser (529332) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882775)

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 the chip for SOI (and since nobody else except IBM uses SOI, this means you can't easily take your chip to another company if Global Foundries fucks things up). The 40nm bulk silicon process means they can get get customers in this down economy, customers who don't want to feel locked-in..

For Flash (and other simple chips):

32nm is currently the cutting-edge, and as far as I know Intel is the only one with 32nm Flash chips on the market. SanDisk will have 32nm Flash by the end of the year.

Great (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28871585)

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 (4, Informative)

cabjf (710106) | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

Re:Great (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28872375)

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:

Companies with iffy situations spinning off a division into a supplier leaving the stockholders with two potentially successful companies and something left if one fails.

Companies with a solid business and financial position on a buying binge to bring suppliers into the mothership's fleet in defense against competitive threats, protecting difficult-to-replace suppliers from economic hardship with cash infusions and business-contact cost savings, and guarding themselves against other supply chain "irregularities" (such as a competitor buying a necessary supplier similarly). (Also: Buying the appropriate unit of a failing competitor - i.e. at a bankruptcy/reorganization sale - to pick up useful parts of the competitors' business at bargain prices.)

Re:Great (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28883641)

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.

Re:Great (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28871861)

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't keep their CPUs selling fast enough. I also wouldn't be hugely surprised to see some of ATI's fab work move from TSMC to the AMD spinoff...

Re:Great (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28883605)

What prevented AMD from taking orders from other companies before spinning off the FAB?

Re:Great (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 5 years ago | (#28871891)

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:Great (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28883575)

AMD could have sold chip production to anyone using that FAB.

Re:Great (3, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28871917)

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.

AMD is on my shiat list (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878013)

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 dropping support after 5 years, but less than three just leaves a sore taste in my mouth. And of course, it's AMD that's making this decision. AMD, who I've been championing for years, going all the way back to the AMD K6/2.

I feel a bit... betrayed.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28871919)

the arabs wanted to own a foundry and not a chip design house.
they got their way. the UAE now has multiple modern fab facilities and technology that it can obtain for military and civilian equipment for chump change. deal of the century.
same way that china is taking over US graduate programs in engineering (all the TAs/RAs are sponsored by china to control US universities). even better deal.
same way that israel can monitor all skype calls by just building fring. technology gets eaten by other nations when the US allows it.

Re:Great (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28873235)

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 industry I'd start getting seriously scared of Intel, and I mean all of it. Their latest SSD offerings are very aggressively priced, their integrated chipsets suck less every year with Larrabee on the horizon and on the netbook segment they're much heavier on motherboards than usual. Pretty soon you have the Intel computer, one unit and the OEMs can basically choose what sticker to put on it.

Re:Great (1)

all_the_names_are_ta (957291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28875515)

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 longer be hobbled by archaic process technology.

Re:Great (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882989)

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.

This is all FUD (1)

SledgeHammerSeb (520650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28872305)

The true purpose of GlobalFoundries is to garner $1.4 Billion (yes, billion) in incentives from NY taxpayers.

Re:This is all FUD (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877047)

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.

Re:This is all FUD (1)

SledgeHammerSeb (520650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28880213)

The $1.4B is not tax relief but up front cash. Taken from a state budget that has an $11B shortfall. A genius decision.

Re:This is all FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28880331)

It can be. How many extra taxpayers (aka individuals) with those jobs. Tax abatements bring 100s of jobs and taxpayers. Quite simple. Its better than the fab moving elsewhere no money from fab and no extra taxpayers. 2 is better than 1 but 1 is better than 0.

AMD reminds me of 3Dfx.... (2, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:AMD reminds me of 3Dfx.... (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28876759)

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:AMD reminds me of 3Dfx.... (2, Informative)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28877131)

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 billion and it's easy to see why they spun this off. The productive coordination process isn't THAT much smoother to warrant all that overhead.

STMicroelectronics - maker of the STM32-Primer2.. (1)

KPexEA (1030982) | more than 5 years ago | (#28874871)

I've got one of them, fun little toy to play with.

http://www.stm32circle.com/hom/index.php [stm32circle.com]

OT: newsworthy tidbits with no meat for discussion (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28874877)

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.

TSMC is going to own for its quality (1)

soceror (457881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28878231)

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

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?