Globalfoundries eyes big hike in chip fabs

Chip maker Globalfoundries continues to talk big, with the announcement of an expansion in manufacturing capacity that it claims will bring it level with market leader TSMC.

The company, which was created last year out of processor firm AMD’s foundry business, catapulted into the top rank of chip makers in January. It is currently the world's third largest chip maker.

Globalfoundries' dramatic new target was revealed as it announced plans to increase production capacity at a number of its fabrication plants during the International Electronics Forum 2010 in Dresden on Friday.

Senior vice-president, Mojy Chian, explained: "If you look at the planned capacity for advanced technology, and the new fab ramping to 42,000 wafers a month, and with the fab in Singapore going to 50,000 wafers per month, and the Dresden fab going to 60,000 wafers a month, and then next week we will announce a further expansion of our facilities and, when you see the further expansion, you will see the numbers are very comparable with TSMC."

Chian gave no hint as to how Globalfoundries would fund its investment programme. Recently, the company requested additional funding from the State of New York to help increase capacity of its fab in Luther Forest, New York, which is still in the process of being built. The plant is due to begin production in 2012.

Asked by a correspondent from Electronics Weekly how Globalfoundries planned to compete on cost, when rival TSMC had just announced plans to open a third 100,000-wafer-a-month plant, Chian replied: "Cost is one factor in the advanced technology business, but the most important part is how quickly a foundry can go to high volume production. We have shown that we can go to high volume very quickly, and we plan to reproduce that at the 32nm node."

Arch-rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the world's largest dedicated chip maker. It currently plans to expand capacity at its two 300mm wafer 'gigafabs' to 100,000 wafers a month. Both plants are dedicated to 'advance process technologies' of 130 nanometres or below, and currently account for around 71 per cent of the company's revenue.