GlobalFoundries has decided to put development of its 7nm process on the backburner and focus on adding non-digital modules to its existing finFET processes alongside the FD-SOI processes.
The foundry said it “is realigning its leading-edge FinFET roadmap to serve the next wave of clients that will adopt the technology in the coming years”. The aim is to make its 14/12nm FinFET processes more relevant to those clients. Doing so will involve adding support for RF, embedded memory, and a greater focus on low-power features.
The suspension of 7nm will result in layoffs, the company said, but added a significant number of top technologists will be redeployed on 14/12nm FinFET derivatives and other offerings.
CEO Tom Caulfield said: “The vast majority of today’s fabless customers are looking to get more value out of each technology generation to leverage the substantial investments required to design into each technology node. Essentially, these nodes are transitioning to design platforms serving multiple waves of applications, giving each node greater longevity. This industry dynamic has resulted in fewer fabless clients designing into the outer limits of Moore’s Law. We are shifting our resources and focus by doubling down on our investments in differentiated technologies across our entire portfolio that are most relevant to our clients in growing market segments.”
A second shift at GlobalFoundries is to create a wholly-owned subsidiary from its ASIC design and IP development operations that can be run independently from the foundry business and provide access to other foundry options for designs that need 7nm and beyond.
“Lifting the burden of investing at the leading edge will allow GF to make more targeted investments in technologies that really matter to the majority of chip designers in fast-growing markets such as RF, IoT, 5G, industrial and automotive,” said Samuel Wang, research vice president at Gartner. “While the leading edge gets most of the headlines, fewer customers can afford the transition to 7nm and finer geometries. 14nm and above technologies will continue to be the important demand driver for the foundry business for many years to come. There is significant room for innovation on these nodes to fuel the next wave of technology.”