GlobalFoundries plans $4B Singapore plant to meet chip demand

New manufacturing facility in Singapore will support "fast-growing" 5G, automotive, and security hardware markets, where the chipmaker says it already has inked "long-term" customer agreements.

GlobalFoundries has begun construction works on a $4 billion manufacturing plant in Singapore to meet growing global demand for semiconductors. It says i"long-term" customer agreements already have been inked in key market segments, including 5G and automotive. 

Slated to be up and running in 2023, the new Singapore fab would be built with co-investments from customers, GlobalFoundries said in a statement Tuesday. The chip manufacturer is owned by United Arab Emirates state-owned wealth fund, Mubadala Investment Company. 

Global semiconductor revenue climbed 10.8% year-on-year to hit $464 billion in 2020, according to IDC, which projected the market would continue to grow, at 12.5%, this year to reach $522 billion. The research firm pointed to high-growth markets 5G, automotive, consume products, and computing as key drivers for semiconductor demand. 

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Revenue from smart phone chips, in particular, would increase 23.3% to hit $147 billion this year, IDC predicted. Its research director for connectivity and smartphone semiconductors Phil Solis said in a May report: "2021 will be an especially important year for semiconductor vendors as 5G phones capture 34% of all mobile phone shipments ,while semiconductors for 5G phones will capture nearly two-thirds of the revenue in the segment."

GlobalFoundries CEO Tom Caulfield said in the company's statement that the new plant in Singapore would support "fast-growing end-markets in the automotive, 5G mobility, and secure device segments". He noted that "long-term" customer agreements from these markets already had been inked.

Caulfield added that the chipmaker was "accelerating" its investments worldwide as part of efforts to address the global semiconductor shortage, which the company said included plans to expand all its manufacturing sites in the US and Germany.

The Singapore fab, when operational, would boost capacity by 450,000 wafers per year, pushing GlobalFoundries' production of 300mm wafers in Singapore to some 1.5 million each year. 

The chipmaker said it was adding 250,000 square feet of cleanroom space as well as administrative offices, with the new plant creating 1,000 roles including technicians and engineers. 

Its launch was announced in partnership with Singapore's Economic Development Board. The government agency's chairman Beh Swan Gin said in the statement that global demand for chips also was fuelled by growth markets such as artificial intelligence and underscored the chip industry as "a key pillar" of the country's manufacturing sector. 

According to stats from TrendForce, Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC led the global market by revenue in the first quarter of 2021, grabbing 55% market share. South Korean Samsung ranked in second with 17% market share, followed by Taiwanese UMC with 7% market share. 

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