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GlobalFoundries: Powering Every Connected Device with Essential Chips |

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Ziad Najjar
Ziad Najjar is an Egyptian author who studied business and finance in the United States and has a keen interest in media. He combines his expertise in these fields to create informative and engaging works accessible to a broad audience.

GlobalFoundries: Powering Every Connected Device with Essential Chips

In just 14 years, GlobalFoundries has become the world’s third-largest chip foundry, quietly contributing to the technology that powers nearly every connected device. Although not a household name, this New York-based company manufactures semiconductors that are designed and sold by other companies. From smartphones and cars to smart speakers and dishwashers, GlobalFoundries chips are found in a wide range of products. They also play a crucial role in the servers running generative artificial intelligence models, a rapidly growing market.

Fueling the AI Revolution

While GlobalFoundries isn’t focused on manufacturing powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) used for training large language models, the company excels in producing chips for power management, display connectivity, and wireless connections. The CEO, Thomas Caulfield, believes that AI will drive the industry to double in the next eight years, and GlobalFoundries aims to seize the opportunities presented by this catalyst.

A Strategic Shift to Essential Chips

In 2018, GlobalFoundries made a strategic pivot to focus solely on manufacturing “essential” chips, stepping away from the race for leading-edge chips that was dominated by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). This decision has positioned GlobalFoundries favorably amidst tensions with China and concerns over reliance on TSMC. The company has invested around $7 billion to expand production in various locations, including Singapore, Germany, France, and upstate New York.

A Legacy of Growth and Expansion

GlobalFoundries originated from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and took over AMD’s chip fabrication plant in Germany in 2009. Over the years, the company expanded its presence with acquisitions and new fabs in Singapore and the United States. Today, GlobalFoundries is a $6 billion business that focuses on manufacturing chips that are vital for everyday devices.

The Importance of GlobalFoundries’ Chips

GlobalFoundries’ chips, although considered “legacy nodes,” are essential for various functions. They enable secure pay transactions, improve camera performance, and enhance battery life in smartphones. During the 2021 chip shortage, GlobalFoundries experienced high demand and sold out entirely. The company’s commitment to producing these chips has proven crucial in meeting market requirements.

Global Expansion and U.S. Manufacturing

GlobalFoundries is the only one of the top five chip foundries that is based in the United States. This strategic advantage, combined with its focus on essential chips, positions the company well in a time of geopolitical turmoil. To further mitigate risks, GlobalFoundries has invested in expanding its capacity in regions with lower geopolitical risks, such as Singapore and France. Additionally, the company takes advantage of the lower-cost power and access to high-quality water in upstate New York, where its Malta fab is located.

Building a Semiconductor Workforce

GlobalFoundries recognizes the importance of skilled labor in the semiconductor industry and has established an apprenticeship program in the United States to develop a semiconductor workforce. Attracting talent to regions like Malta, New York, can be challenging, but initiatives like these help bridge the skills gap. The high cost of materials and construction in the U.S. is mitigated by public subsidies, such as the $2 billion investment from New York for the Malta fab.

GlobalFoundries’ commitment to manufacturing essential chips, strategic global expansion, and investment in developing a skilled workforce contribute to its success as a leading chip foundry. As the world becomes increasingly reliant on connected devices and AI, GlobalFoundries plays a crucial role in powering these technological advancements.

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