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Globalfoundries quietly becoming a threat to competitors
Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES, Taipei [Monday 1 April 2013]

While market outlets pay close attention to Samsung Electronics' rise and Intel's entry - both a threat to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Globalfoundries has quietly been making strong progress in manufacturing technologies and capabilities.

Globalfoundries was named by IC Insights a top performer in the 2012 semiconductor industry, along with fabless chip giant Qualcomm. According to the research firm in its new report, Globalfoundries enjoyed a 31% revenue increase in 2012, driven by "its success in attracting new IC foundry customers (e.g., STMicroelectronics, Freescale, Qualcomm, etc.)."

Globalfoundries recently reached a deal to buy more than 1,000 sets of production equipment installed at the 12-inch wafer fab of Taiwan-based ProMOS Technologies - a DRAM maker looking to go fabless. ProMOS also disclosed that they are in talks to transfer the whole 12-inch plant as well as the existing employees stationed at the facility, raising speculation that the US foundry might have Taiwan a base for regional operations.

A number of fabless companies specializing in IC parts, such as application processors, panel driver ICs, touchscreen controllers and consumer IC solutions, are headquartered in Taiwan. It is already being rumored that Globalfoundries has landed 28nm chip orders from MediaTek, which contracts TSMC and UMC to manufacture its smartphone solutions.

In addition, Globalfoundries has laid out a roadmap for 2014 that includes 3D FinFET transistors at the 14nm process - a move to keep up with TSMC and also technology leader Intel.

Globalfoundries in a June 2012 Digitimes report said that it would unseat UMC as the world's second-largest pure-play semiconductor foundry in 2012, and aims for global leadership position among contract chipmakers, and the first goal already achieved.

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