APM and FacilitiesAPM stands for Automated Precision Manufacturing, which was developed by AMD as a software suite that constantly monitors and adjusts the process line to improve yields and performance, as well as introduce new variables to enable differentiating features in identical products without converting the entire line. An example of this would be a 25 wafer lot that is a high performance part being directly followed by a 25 wafer lot that is intended to be lower performance but more power efficient.
APM allows a much more granular approach to wafer management than is traditionally seen in foundries. This allows for more customization of parts as needed, but more importantly is there to enable greater accuracy in finding issues with lots before the problem affects more than one lot. This means catching issues early, and improving productivity for the line by decreasing waste (and possibly being able to fix affected wafers before it is too late).
Manufacturing partners have traditionally had engineers on site at foundries to help deal with issues which can arise. By allowing partners the use of APM, GLOBALFOUNDRIES has opened the door for greater control by their partners when it comes manufacturing the parts. Typical costs for chips in the foundry industry are done on a “per good chip” basis. Higher yields allow customers to more adequately and accurately plan for production runs, and higher yields for GLOBALFOUNDRIES means less waste and a greater utilization of each wafer being sent through the Fab.
This is where the magic happens. All 32 nm wafer starts will initially be produced here, with eventual production at Fab 2 when it opens and ramps up.
APM also potentially means that “hot lots” can be handled faster. Instead of closing down a line to allow for a hot lot to go through without interruption (which is expensive for everyone), APM can adjust the wafer lots in line ahead of the hot lot to allow it uninterrupted use of the facilities, all the while keeping other lots moving through the process. This would also make hot lots more affordable, though not necessarily economically feasible for large quantities of product.
The final advantage that GLOBALFOUNDRIES sees is that of its facilities. Fab 36 and Fab 38 have been renamed Fab 1 (Module 1/Module 2). These are state of the art facilities with 300 mm wafer production and currently Module 1 is running the 45 nm SOI process used for AMD’s Phenom II processors. Module 2 is being prepared for 32 nm bulk silicon production, and should be ramping up at the end of this year. The city of Dresden, and the area around it, is now considered to be one of the leading areas of silicon manufacturing and research.
The Luther Forest Campus will become Fab 2, and ground breaking is expected to start this summer. This $4 billion Fab will be the most advanced Fab on the planet (or so they hope). This Fab will feature 32 nm, 28 nm, and 22 nm production. While Intel will likely beat GF to the 22 nm punch, GF is planning to be within a few months of Intel for this new node.
Fab 2 will be a huge building, with an equally huge 35,000 wafer starts per month fully ramped.
An interesting aspect of this campus is that it can be expanded into 3 modules. The first building will of course be Fab 2, Module 1, but the design of the structure and the layout of the land will allow two other Fabs to be daisy chained together into one semi-cohesive structure. If GF sees success with its manufacturing prowess, and tempts more companies to use them as their production partner, then these buildings can be erected relatively quickly (same overall design, utilities and permits already reflect such a move).
Fab 1 can produce around 25,000 wafer starts per month, per module. So a total of 50,000 wafer start per month, but of course divided into bulk and SOI silicon. Once fully ramped, Fab 2 can do an astounding 35,000 wafer starts per month. Global Foundries will have the capacity to address the needs of quite a few companies out there, all the while keeping Fab utilization at a high level because they no longer serve just one customer.
If GLOBALFOUNDRIES succeeds as they are hoping, then we might see the ATIC pressure take place and Fab 3 or 4 would be built in Abu Dhabi, thereby adding to the local economy there with high tech jobs and an actual industry other than oil production.