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DAC Keynote: GlobalFoundries CEO Calls For New Foundry Model

Comments(0)Filed under: Industry Insights, DAC, Global Foundries, GlobalFoundries, Grose

If GlobalFoundries 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 "contract" model.

"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 GlobalFoundries."

Global Diversification

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 clusters."

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, and quality.

Videos of the DAC keynote speeches are now available on line.

Richard Goering




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