At its lengthy Financial Analyst Day conference yesterday, AMD gave attendees some insight into what The Foundry Company—its soon-to-be spun-off foundry business—will be doing over the next couple of years. If things go as planned, the new manufacturing firm will start cranking out bulk silicon wafers next year, and it will eventually manufacture chipsets and graphics processors for AMD.
Right now, AMD makes its own microprocessors using silicon-on-insulator process (SOI) technology, and it relies on Taiwanese foundries TSMC and UMC to build graphics processors and chipsets using bulk silicon. Likely because few companies aside from IBM and AMD design their chips around SOI tech, The Foundry Company will also have to start offering a bulk silicon process in order to attract other customers (and pad its bottom line). The roadmap above shows that transition will kick off in the second quarter of next year with a 45nm bulk silicon process.
Unsurprisingly, AMD intends to rely on The Foundry Company’s future bulk silicon production capabilities to build GPUs and chipsets. The second slide suggests that move will happen at the 32nm node in 2010, but AMD will apparently stick with 55nm and 40nm processes from TSMC and UMC until then. The second slide also says AMD will use both SOI and bulk silicon for future microprocessors and “APUs” (accelerated processing units). APU is AMD’s shorthand for x86 CPUs that have graphics processors built in, so it’s entirely possible AMD is simply referring to products that have an SOI CPU chip and a bulk GPU chip on the same package. The latest AMD client roadmap pins the launch of the first APUs in 2010.
AMD announced the spinning off of its manufacturing division in early October, and it plans to complete the operation early next year. The Foundry Company will then get its “permanent corporate name and identity,” and AMD will retain a 44.4% stake and equal voting rights with ATIC, the Abu Dhabi-based investment firm that will own the remaining 55.6%. AMD manufacturing chief Doug Grose will be in charge of the company, and former CEO Hector Ruiz will fill in as chairman.