Samsung, Globalfoundries Partner on 14nm Chip Process
The alliance gives both companies more leverage against Taiwan Semiconductor, the world's largest chip foundry.Samsung Electronics and Globalfoundries are partnering to jointly develop 14-nanometer processors that feature a three-dimensional transistor architecture, a move that will challenge top chip foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and will put more pressure on Intel's growing foundry business. Globalfoundries will license Samsung's latest chip design, which includes a 14nm FinFET architecture that is designed to increase the performance and energy efficiency in the processors by moving away from a flat transistor architecture to a 3D one. Such capabilities are increasingly important in the booming smartphone and tablet markets. The move essentially means that chipmakers that want to build their products based on Samsung's 14nm design will be able to bring their designs to either foundry for manufacturing, expanding their supply options. They also will be able to switch between the two foundries if necessary without having to touch their designs, according to officials with both companies. "With this industry-first alignment of 14nm FinFET production capabilities, we can offer greater choice and flexibility to the world's leading fabless semiconductor companies, while helping the fabless industry to maintain its leadership in the mobile device market," Globalfoundries CEO Sanjay Jha said in a statement.
Fewer chip vendors make their own processors, choosing instead to save the money needed to keep expensive fabrication facilities maintained and up-to-date by handing off their designs to foundries like Globalfoundries and Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC), which reportedly controls about half of the global chip foundry market. Intel continues to run massive fabs, with officials calling their manufacturing capabilities an asset when competing against the likes of Advanced Micro Devices and Qualcomm.