GlobalFoundries to populate globe with nothing but foundries

Ok, maybe the headline overstates things a bit, but not by much. The upstart chip manufacturing firm that began as a spin-off of AMD's production arm has been spending money right and left to fuel its expansion. That trend continued today with GlobalFoundries' announcement at Computex of a series of new initiatives around the globe.

GlobalFoundries CEO Doug Grose (left) with ATIC CEO Ibrahim Ajami (right)

In Dresden, site of two existing fab "modules" acquired from AMD, the firm will build a third wafer manufacturing facility geared for 45, 40, and 28-nm process nodes. The firm claims the Dresden site, known as Fab 1, is already "the largest wafer fab in Europe." With the expansion, Fab 1's total site output will scale "up to 80,000 wafers per month" within the next couple of years. In one of those illustrative stats you have to like, the press release claims Fab 1's "wafer fabrication equipment will cover an area equivalent to approximately eight soccer fields." The expanded Fab 1 will also contribute to the initial development of 22-nm process tech.

GlobalFoundries expects the first output from the new module "in 2011" and says construction is "planned to start immediately." However, the project is still waiting for an infusion of sweet, sweet government money, so the whole deal is presently "still subject to the approval of a state aid package by the German authorities and the European Commission." We're sure they'll get right on that after they're finished with this minor matter in Greece.

GlobalFoundries intends to beef up the capacity at its Fab 8 location in Saratoga County, New York, as well, with the expansion of its clean-room shell "by approximately 90,000 square feet, bringing the total available cleanroom space to approximately 300,000 square feet, equivalent to roughly six soccer fields of state-of-the-art wafer fabrication equipment." Fab 8's focus will be the 20/22-nm process nodes, and GlobalFoundries expects the whole site to "come online" in 2012 and begin producing wafers in volume by "early 2013." This expansion, too, is awaiting the approval of government funding. At issue is the final go-ahead for "an investment agreement with Empire State Development Corporation and the State of New York."

The majority of GlobalFoundries' funding has come from another government, that of Abu Dhabi, which created the Advanced Technology Investment Company in order to foster the growth of high-tech business in its region. Among today's announcements is a realization of that vision. ATIC is GlobalFoundries' majority shareholder, and today ATIC announced plans to build "an advanced technology cluster" in Abu Dhabi. Although it will evidently be an ATIC enterprise, GlobalFoundries will support the cluster:

GLOBALFOUNDRIES is committed to partnering with ATIC to share best practices and expertise in cluster creation in the near-term and putting a significant technology and manufacturing presence in the region long term. The goal for the site is to be the Middle Eastern hub of a global technology and manufacturing network to support the long-term deployment of capital for ATIC portfolio companies, in capital-intensive advanced technologies.

To cut through the "hub" and "network" talk a bit, our man Cyril Kowaliski, who attended the GlobalFoundries press conference in Taiwan, tells us the Abu Dhabi site will eventually do chip design and manufacturing.

Cyril reports that the total value of the expansions announced today is in excess of $3 billion dollars, which is quite a lot of money.

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