Globalfoundries to ride on mobile wave

With rise of mobile devices such as tablets, contract chipmaker is eyeing the emerging microelectromechanical systems market and aims to be the No. 1 foundry for the category, says exec.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Tapping on the growth of consumer electronic devices, Globalfoundries is ramping up its microelectromechanical systems (Mems) production and has set its sight on becoming worldwide leader in this area within the next four years, says a company executive.

In a Tuesday media briefing, Raj Kumar, general manager of Globalfoundries Singapore, said the AMD spinoff is targeting to become the global No. 1 Mems foundry by 2015. According to him, this market will see high growth, driven by high-volume consumer electronics such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets and cameras.

Globalfoundries' facilities and tools for Mems production are ready and the company will begin manufacturing in mid-2011, said Kumar. To gear for this new direction, the Singapore Globalfoundries campus brought in Mems experts last year, he added.

In the past, production of Mems has been focused on 6-inch wafers and the market has been mainly captured by integrated device manufacturers (IDMs), said Kumar.

The market, he also noted, was fragmented and there was a lack of standardization in manufacturing processes for Mems. This gave rise to cost inefficiencies, as foundries needed to invest additional capital expenditure even when bringing in customers from within the same sector, he said.

However, Kumar believes that the market is changing and Mems production volumes have become significant enough to achieve economies of scale. He also noted that the Mems market will eventually turn to pure-play foundries as customers would prefer vendors who can offer integrated solutions including Mems, CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) and wafers.

The Mems market is one of Globalfoundries' key focus areas for 2011. The company announced that it will be investing US$5.4 billion in capital expenditure in 2011, nearly double that in 2010.

Globalfoundries-Chartered marriage 'very successful'
Touching on the merger of Globalfoundries and Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, which was finalized in December 2009, Kumar noted that the integration had been "very successful".

According to him, the Singapore campus plays a critical role for the merged entity as it has the largest facilities, resources and personnel. Some 200 employees from the island-state were also involved in supporting fab expansion in Dresden, Germany and New York.

Kumar also noted that Singapore contributed more than US$2 billion in revenues for the company. Globalfoundries' total 2010 revenue was estimated at about US$3.5 billion.

Editorial standards