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CEO Doug Grose has his way, there will be no one place in the world where
foundry capability is concentrated. In a keynote speech at the Design
Automation Conference June 15, he called for a new, globally-dispersed foundry
model based on deep ecosystem collaboration, in contrast to the traditional
"We need to rethink the existing foundry model and evolve it
to a capability that really brings in the entire ecosystem," Grose said. "The
[existing] foundry model had its origins in Asia, in particular, Taiwan. Here's
where the model really took root. But given the proliferation of chip design
capability across the globe, we think the current model has not kept pace with
the geographic diversification that's been shown on the design side."
"Like chip design, manufacturing must be a global activity,
and the two must be in proximity to one another. This is truly the vision of
Except for a few brief opening remarks, Grose didn't talk
specifically about GlobalFoundries and its history, nor did he mention any
competitors by name.
But the company is a living example of the geographic diversity
that Grose talked about. It started as the former manufacturing arm of AMD and
merged with Chartered Semiconductor in 2009. Today, it has manufacturing
centers in the U.S., Singapore, and Germany
and corporate offices in Silicon Valley.
One argument that Grose raised for global diversification is
the need for a close link between design and manufacturing. "The industry is in
transition," he said, "and at the heart of this is the merger of design and
manufacturing. They are no longer opposite sides of the coin."
Grose believes the escalating costs of design and
manufacturing will drive a deep collaboration between design teams and
foundries. "A collaborative model presents the opportunity to offset these huge
costs without sacrificing competitiveness in the supply chain," he said. "We
need to evolve the contract model to a more collaborative model."
He wasn't talking about an occasional design review. Grose
said that GlobalFoundries wants to "have a seat at the table" as customers are
developing design specifications that could be two years ahead of a tapeout.
This is "so we can develop a process in tune with the customer specifications
and the design needs going forward." The collaboration continues as both the
design and the process are developed, refined and tested.
The deep collaboration that Grose described also includes
EDA and IP providers. Cadence, for example, is a close partner of
GlobalFoundries, and Cadence has a presence in the GlobalFoundries booth at
this week's DAC.
The Foundry Next Door
Grose thinks that deep collaboration requires physical
proximity, in order to satisfy "the intimacy demanded by designers and
foundries as they work with these very complex technologies." He said that
solutions should "no longer be concentrated in a single location or a single
company. We need the best minds from around the world."
Grose said that GlobalFoundries' presence on two major
continents has allowed it to tap engineering expertise from around the globe
(actually, I count three continents). In his ideal world, semiconductor
manufacturing will be "a truly global activity no longer confined to a few
Don't expect a fab in your neighborhood any time soon. We're
talking about continents, not counties. And with multi-billion-dollar price
tags, there aren't going to be a lot of new fabs anywhere in the world. I have
to say I like the idea of a geographically dispersed semiconductor manufacturing
capability. But the bottom line is always going to come down to price, service,
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Videos of the DAC keynote speeches are now available on line.