AMD Spinoff Globalfoundries, Arm Partner for SoC Chips

Globalfoundries, which AMD spun off earlier this year, and Arm are teaming up to enable mutual customers to develop processors for mobile products using Arm technologies and Globalfoundries' 28-nm manufacturing process. The chips will be aimed at mobile devices such as smartphones and low-cost notebooks. The move comes as other chip makers, notably Intel, are looking to shrink the size of their products to fit into mobile devices.

Globalfoundries, the manufacturing spinoff from Advanced Micro Devices, is teaming with Arm to help businesses design smaller processors for such devices as mobile phones and low-end notebooks.

In a partnership announced Oct. 6, the two companies said the partnership will enable mutual customers to design processors built with Arm tools for Globalfoundries' 28-nanometer processor manufacturing technology.

The first step in the partnership will focus on SoC (system-on-a-chip) products, using Arm's low-power, high-performance -A9 chip on Globalfoundries' 28-nm "gate first" high-k metal gate technology, which-given its minimal electrical leakage-is aimed at mobile products, according to Globalfoundries officials.

Through the program, mutual customers of the two companies will have access to Arm's physical, fabric and processor IP to give them the greatest design flexibility.

The chips could be used in such devices as mobile phones, smartphones and low-cost laptops.

"This relationship further advances our strong focus to partner with industry leaders in processor design to deliver manufacturing and technology excellence at the leading edge," Doug Grose, Globalfoundries CEO, said in a statement. "This highly complementary partnership leverages Arm's architectural leadership along with Globalfoundries' advanced technology to enable the deployment of 28nm SoC designs with exceptional performance for next-generation consumer devices."

The partnership comes at a time when many competitors in the microprocessor space are looking to make their technologies smaller. At the Intel Developer Forum last month, company executives touted their work in aggressively driving down the size of their chips.

Intel is rapidly moving to a 32-nm manufacturing process, which will help it put as many as 2 billion transistors on a single chip, making it easier to put the chips into mobile devices. Intel also is looking to expand the reach of its Atom processor, including outsourcing the manufacturing to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, which will enable others to use it to create SoC designs.

This will enable Intel to continue to push into the mobile space, which has been dominated by Arm.

The partnership with Arm also is the latest move by Globalfoundries to expand its business. AMD spun off the company in a joint venture with ATIC (Advanced Technology Investment Co.) of Abu Dhabi, and until recently, AMD was its only client.

In September, ATIC announced that it was buying Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing for $1.8 billion and merging it with Globalfoundries. In July, Globalfoundries also inked a deal with STMicroelectronics to produce processors for wireless and computer devices.

Globalfoundries currently operates a manufacturing facility in Dresden, Germany, and is building a $4.2 billion facility in upstate New York.