MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Globalfoundries CEO Ajit Manocha has praised his firm for what he called a “remarkable quarter” in Q411, and promised that the foundry was on track to “keep the momentum going,” after a year plagued with difficulties and setbacks.
Globalfoundries' new fab in upstate New York is due to start ramping imminently, he said, with 20-nm expected to be introduced in June. The company has said it expects to spend more than $3 billion in capital expenditures this year.
While that figure may seem significant, it's significantly lower than the more than $5 billion that the company spent on capex in 2011. Analysts have suggested that the decrease is largely driven by the delay (or potentially cancellation) of a new fab in Abu Dhabi.
Globalfoundries did not disclose 2011 revenues, but after its challenges with yields on AMD chips and a restrictive wafer supply agreement, there is speculation in financial circles that the firm may well have missed its 20 percent growth projection (on 2010 revenues of $3.5 billion) predicted at the beginning of 2011.
Meanwhile, Manocha said Globalfoundries’ Dresden facility would continue with 32-nm and 28-nm manufacturing, while plans were already underway for 14-nm.
In an interview with EE Times, the CEO dismissed Globalfoundries’ competition as only having shipped “a few thousand wafers” with high-k metal gate in 2011, noting that his firm had shipped well over 700, 000. “People thought that gate first would never work, but didn’t we prove everybody wrong?” he asked.
Despite Manocha’s confidence, however, many analysts still question whether HKMG was indeed the right choice to make. The struggles with gate-first HKMG were well-documented and cost companies like AMD tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue in 2011 due to the delays in launching its Llano APU.
While technically elegant, the gate-first HKMG has proved particularly difficult to ramp and now the company will need to make another challenging transition as it follows Intel and TSMC to gate-last HKMG at 20-nm.
Manocha agreed that scaling from 40-nm to 32-nm had indeed presented a challenge, and that it would be yet another bridge to cross reversing the metal gate going from 28-nm to 20-nm, a bigger challenge, he said, would likely come from the photo lithography side of the process and then moving to 450 mm wafers.