GlobalFoundries abandons advanced processes such as 7nm: chasing silicon photonics

As the semiconductor manufacturing process becomes more and more advanced and complex, and there are fewer and fewer players, it has almost become a one-man show for TSMC, and Samsung Electronics and Intel are a little bit reluctant.

As early as August 2018, GlobalFoundries, an independent AMD manufacturing business, announced the abandonment of the 7nm process project, and the future 5nm and 3nm process research and development were also directly stranded. AMD CPU processors and GPU graphics cards immediately turned to TSMC, and as a result, the Zen 2 family of 7nm technology shined.

So, will GF have to rely on “old technologies” such as 12/14nm and 22nm to survive in the future? Obviously not, people have already found a new and brighter way, which is the tall silicon-based optoelectronics (Silicon Photonics).

GlobalFoundries abandons advanced processes such as 7nm: chasing silicon photonics

In October 2014, GlobalFoundries announced the acquisition of IBM’s global commercial semiconductor business, and obtained all the intellectual property, personnel, technology, and two fabs related to IBM microelectronics. IBM also paid $1.5 billion!

Among them, the most valuable asset is probably 16,000 various patents. Based on this, GF has successfully entered the field of silicon photonics and optical fibers, especially high-bandwidth network physical layer applications.

GlobalFoundries abandons advanced processes such as 7nm: chasing silicon photonics

According to reports, GF has been providing medium-scale network physical layer solutions to telecommunications and data center industry customers since 2016, which can provide 40Gbps bandwidth over a distance of up to 10 kilometers without repeaters.

In 2017, GF and Ayar Labs cooperated to develop an optical I/O chip, which combines GF 45nm CMOS process and Aya optical CMOS I/O technology. Compared with the traditional copper-based solution, the bandwidth is increased by 10 times, but the power consumption is reduced by 5 times. .

In 2018, the two parties settled on a new platform with a bandwidth of up to 100Gbps per wavelength, and the client can achieve a maximum of 800Gbps.

In 2019, the two developed another set of supercomputing chips, and even integrated an Intel chip, which is part of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Extremely Scalable Photonics Packaging Project (PIPES).

With the increasing demand for network bandwidth such as 5G and AI, it is conceivable that GF’s future silicon photonics business has a bright future.

Author: above text Q

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