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Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Globalfoundries Initiates 28nm Production, Plans to Migrate to 20nm in 2012

Globalfoundries talked about its plans to start volume production using 28-20nm process technologies and also to expand its production capacity, at a press conference held Jan 25, 2011 held in Tokyo.

The company intends to throw down the gauntlet against Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), which is currently leading the industry, in terms of both technology development centered on micro fabrication and production capacity.

28nm process technologies

The US-based company said that the low-power 28nm high-k gate dielectric film/metal gate (HKMG) technology will enable new use cases and continued rapid expansion in endpoints (devices and people i.e. 3G subscribers), content (i.e. internet video will dominate traffic in 2014) and traffic (i.e. mobile traffic is doubling every year).

Globalfoundries said that it has improved the design flow for 28nm process technologies. The company employed the high-k gate dielectric film/metal gate based on the "Gate First" method. Compared to the "Gate Last" method used by rival TSMC, the new 28nm "Gate First" method enables to reduce the area of a chip by 10 to 20%, the company said. In addition, compared to the 40nm process, the 28nm process offers a ~100% increase in density, up to 50% increased speed and 50% reduction in energy/switch, while it sustains the 40nm layout style advantages.

The company plans to offer the SLP (low power consumption), HP (high speed) and HPP (super high-speed) 28nm processes. Volume production is scheduled to start in 2011, together with IBM, Samsung and STMicroelectronics N.V. under the Common Platform Alliance. Globalfoundries initially participate to the Alliance with 4 28nm fabs.

The company expects to receive design data from the first customer in April to June 2011. However, Globalfoundries has already applied the same high-k gate dielectric film/metal gate technology to produce AMD's 32nm Llano microprocessor, which microprocessor (quad-core x86 / DirectX 11 GPU) with volume ramp scheduled this year.

In addition, significant growth is expected for future mobile devices. Globalfoundries is collaborating with ARM for the industry's first 28nm HKMG SoC, which will have a ARM Cortex A9 core. The SoC will consume up to 30% less power and will offer 100% more battery life, over the 45/40nm SoC. In addition, it will offer enhanced multitasking, multimedia playback, interactive media and graphics, running at 2GHZ~2.5GHz (Vdd 0.85V).

The result of the collaboration between Globalfoundries and ARM is the 28nm "Semper" Cortex A9 based SoC, which will be used as a "Technology Test Vehicle." The SoC features more than 50M stdcell transistors, 16 Mbps memory and a dual core macro with wide operational frequency range of 10Mhz ~ 2.5GHz.

20nm process technologies

The next step after the 28nm technologies is the 20nm and not the expected 22nm.

Globalfoundries said that it has already started cooperation with its first customers and plans to begin shuttle services in the latter half of 2011 and production in the latter half of 2012.

The 20nm process will enable ~50% area shrink for digital logic and SRAM, the company said.

For its 20nm technologies, Globalfoundries will use the high-k gate dielectric film/metal gate technology based on the "Gate Last" method and not the "Gate First" method that will be followed for the 28nm. The company intends to offer multiple processes including SLP and HP for its 20nm technologies.


As for lithography technologies, Globalfoundries will introduce the Extreme Ultra-violet (EUV) lithography.

The company plans to install production-level EUV tools in Fab 8 in New York in 2H 2012, aiming at volume production by 2014/2015. To start the volume production as early as possible, it will not introduce a pre-production tool and will use the volume production equipment from the beginning. The company also intends to start applying EUV lithography for future 16-15nm or more advanced process technologies.


Globalfoundries 2011 investment plan includes capacity expansions at its Fab 1 (Germany), Fab 8 (New York) and also programming/planning for its Abu Dhabi cluster.

The company will increase the production capacity of the Fab 1 in Germany to 80,000 wafers per month (online in mid 2011, focused on 40/45nm technology with scalability to 28nm and below) and the capacity of the Fab 8 in the US to 60,000 wafers per month (online in 2013, focused on 22/20nm technology).

Moreover, the company will expand the production capacities of its 200mm lines, intending to focus on the commissioned manufacturing of MEMS devices such as acceleration sensors and RF devices.

Furthermore, Globalfoundries plans to start offering 3D stacking technologies including TSV (through silicon via) technologies in or after 2011.

Globalfoundries also plan to develop an ecosystem in Abu Dhabi. Positioned in an area close to Abu Dhabi airport site, the company plans to establish a significant technology and manufacturing presence to the area by sharing knowledge and practices from NY, Dresden and Singapore plants. In cooperation with MIT, Globalfoundries will offer Master's in Microelectronics and international scholarships for Elite Emirati Engineering students.

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