Global Foundries talks future technologies

GTC 2010: 450mm, stacking and diversity

Glofo iconGLOBAL FOUNDRIES KICKED off their Global Technology Conference, aka GTC, with a bit about the company itself. While there were no big bangs, there were a lot of little things in the slides worth talking about.

Doug Grose was the first one up, and he was talking about some of the upcoming technologies that GloFo has coming down the pike. These bullet points are a window of what GloFo is planning for the short and mid term.

The first thing up was High-K Metal Gates (HKMG), but that is well known. That was followed by FinFets, something that GloFo has not talked about much. One has to wonder if they are really going to go down this route, it hasn’t gotten much press lately, but that is not a reliable indicator for technological progress.

From there the next two are 450mm wafers and 3DICs, and they are far more tied together than most people think. 450mm has been talked about to death, it doubles the area per wafer over the standard 300mm wafers that we all know and love.  3DICs are more interesting, a buzzword that covers a lot of technologies, all of which can be described by the term ‘die stacking’. This can incorporate wire bonding, through silicon vias (TSV), and a bunch of upcoming technologies that may or may not work out.

Why this is important is that cell phones and widgets need more and more power in less and less board space. If you can stack DRAMs or flash on a CPU, you can make a smaller phone. GloFo has been notably silent on this issue, too silent for some watchers. With that little bullet point, GloFo has demonstrated that they are not ignoring the issue.

The last key point for the keynote was on continuity of supply. GloFo has two clusters of fabs now, one in Singapore and the other in Germany. In the near future, New York state will be added to that list, really putting the Global in Global Foundries.  Several buyers and governments are somewhat nervous about having the majority of the world’s foundries in a geographically narrow area. One errant storm, army, or disease could put a serious dent in the world’s supply of things to go into widgets. If your company depends on those chips, thoughs about these things keep you up at night.

With three fab clusters on three continents, GloFo has a very strong claim that any single problem won’t affect their supply. To some buyers, this is a more important issue than the price or even the technology itself. GloFo now has both the tech and the geographic diversity to be a truly global company.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate