The Common Platform – the foundry marketing alliance linking Samsung, IBM and GlobalFoundries – is being wound down although the three companies will continue some collaboration on process development and alignment, Tech Design Forum understands.
The move does not come as a great surprise. The Common Platform has been largely inactive for several months. During that time, different priorities have emerged across the partners that have made some kind of break-up almost inevitable.
Most recently, Tech Design Forum understands that GlobalFoundries decided in future to support only in-house events and some partner conferences. At time of writing, it had cancelled its stand at this year’s upcoming Design Automation Conference, and also had not actively participated as an exhibitor in Design Automation and Test in Europe (DATE), even though DATE’s 2014 edition was held in Dresden, home to one of Global’s main fabs.
For its part, Samsung is said to be concentrating on competing with TSMC on both technology and price for its incoming finFET technology. A presentation at Mentor Graphics’ User2User event earlier this month in San Jose showed that the South Korean group also pushing its 28nm offering hard for the Internet of Things.
Finally, IBM is already known to be reviewing whether it will continue in the chip manufacturing business at all. That has inevitably refocused its marketing activities and willingness to fund Common Platform activities.
However, the three companies are not completely abandoning joint technology development, particularly since their earlier agreements have already taken them much of the way to 20nm, both in planar and finFET forms.
Sources say that a new, looser partnership has been put in place, although it is not clear whether this now merely extends an existing technology collaboration between the Common Platform trio and STMicroelectronics.
A key factor here is said to be maintaining some levels of process alignment that will continue to allow Common Platform members to work with one another as second sources on key contracts.
On that particular theme, separate Silicon Valley talk has had Apple being especially insistent on a second source if it is to keep much of its chipmaking with its current foundry Samsung and not move across to TSMC.