Globalfoundries' Morgenstern: Diversity is key in Dresden

April 15, 2019 // By Peter Clarke
Globalfoundries' Morgenstern: Diversity is key in Dresden
eeNews Europe caught up with Thomas Morgenstern, the managing director of Globalfoundries' operations in Dresden, Germany, and found a semiconductor executive with a remit to broaden the company's approach to multiple markets.

In 2017 when Morgenstern arrived to run Globalfoundries' operations in Dresden, the fab had three major customers responsible for most of the demand at the fab. When one of those customers put a block on further orders it was time to look at the bigger picture and other opportunities, Morgenstern told eeNews Europe.

Morgenstern had come from Robert Bosch in Reutlingen, Germany, where he had been responsible for chip manufacturing. "My experience of ASICs and MEMS there [Reutlingen] means I know you can earn a lot of money with mature manufacturing processes," Morgenstern said.

This also helped make Morgenstern a good fit for Globalfoundries in 2018 when under new CEO Thomas Caulfield the company was wrestling with the decision to pull out from competing at the leading-edge (see GloFo rethinks its future, drops 7nm FinFET).

"Up until then the focus in Dresden had been on 22FDX," Morgenstern said. 22FDX is the name of Globalfoundries' fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FDSOI) manufacturing process at a nominal 22nm design rule. But the process remains a technically sophisticated alternative to mainstream FinFET processes pursued by TSMC, Samsung and Intel. Samsung also offers FDSOI – at 28nm – but at whichever node the technology is offered, FDSOI has to fight its corner to gain design wins.

Morgenstern wouldn't name the customer who "caught a cold" but said it was a company that was part of the smartphone supply chain. The customer had become a victim of the legal and commercial battles taking place in that market. Being whiplashed around at the end of the supply chain is a risk of participating in the consumer electronics space, Morgenstern said.

Nonetheless, as result Dresden's manufacturing utilization rate went down in 2018 and Morgenstern found himself having to make lay-offs and instruct other workers to go on short time working (see Globalfoundries cutting 5% of staff).

Next: New strategy

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