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GlobalFoundries joins Google's open-source silicon initiative

Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: DIGITIMES Asia

Google announced in a blog on August 3 that GlobalFoundries (GF) is participating in its open-source silicon initiative as a new partner, calling the new partnership a milestone in the foundry ecosystem market.

It is releasing the process design kit (PDK) for the GlobalFoundries 180MCU technology platform under the Apache2.0 license along with a no-cost silicon realization program to manufacture open-source designs on the Efabless platform, which provides low-cost end-to-end chip creation solutions for universities, research labs, and startups.

"Based on the scale and breadth of GF's technology and manufacturing expertise, we expect to do more together to further access and innovation in semiconductor development and manufacturing," according to Google's blog posted by its Hardware Toolchains Team.

The collaboration between GlobalFoundries and Google will help drive innovation for the application and silicon engineers designing in these high-growth areas, and is an unambiguous affirmation of the viability of the open source model for the foundry ecosystem, according to the blog.

Google started this program with foundry service provider SkyWater Technologies, by releasing one of their PDKs under the Apache 2.0 license. Google said it sponsored six shuttle runs over the course of two years, allowing the open source community to submit more than 350 unique designs of which around 240 were manufactured at no cost.

The blog pointed out that the unprecedented acceleration of adoption of digital capabilities has led to roughly 73% of GF's foundry revenue being associated with high-growth markets such as mobile, IoT, and automotive. It was driven by the pandemic and technology megatrends that have shifted every aspect of human life. According to GF, this transition has not only given rise to a "New Golden Age" of semiconductors but also a tectonic shift in how we define and deliver innovation as an industry.  

Although the world has cast the spotlight on the advanced semiconductor processing technologies which is redefined by the US government as 14nm nodes and below during the peak period of the chip crunch, GF said applications using 180nm are at a global capacity of 16+ million wafers a year and bound to grow to 22+ million wafers in 2026, according to the blog.

The 180nm application space continues to see strong market demand in motor controllers, RFID, general purpose MCUs and PMIC, along with emerging applications such as IoT Sensors, dual frequency RFID and motor drive.

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