Globalfoundries' Morgenstern: Diversity is key in Dresden: Page 3 of 5

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.

It may be remembered that Globalfoundries has recently sold off a wafer fab in Singapore that was its centre of excellence for MEMS making (see GloFo sells MEMS business, fab to Taiwan's Vanguard) to Vanguard International Semiconductor Corp. (Hsinchu, Taiwan).

However, with Globalfoundries increased emphasis on diversification – almost the antithesis of the now-abandoned pursuit of FinFETs at 7nm – was there any temptation for Globalfoundries to maintain MEMS manufacturing capability and bring it to Dresden?

Morgenstern's answer is a simple "No" and the reason is equally simple: wafer diameter. The Tampines wafer fab in Singapore – known as Fab3e under Globalfoundries – manufactures MEMS on 200mm-diameter wafers while Dresden is a 300mm wafer fab.

There is no prospect that manufacturing MEMS on 300mm wafers will be economic before 2024 or 2025 at the earliest, Morgenstern said (see MEMS will be made on 300mm wafers, says Bosch exec).

Until then MEMS silicon tends to be so tiny and volumes required at such a level that a few containers of 300mm-diameter wafers could make a life time supply of a given product. That results in a lot of chopping and changing in the fab. It is simply a case that the economics are better for such small slivers on silicon to be made on 8- or 6-inch wafers.

Customer diversity

"When I arrived in November 2017 we had three big customers," said Morgenstein explaining that he immediately created the "3-30-300" program to broaden Dresden's customer base. "Now we have more than 50 customers and 180 products being manufactured here," he said. "We have customers from China, Israel, Europe. It might take four or five years to get to 300 customers but it is more about the attitude and direction of travel – oh and I am pretty sure that the customer that had to take break is coming back. And that's because we provide competitive advantage."

"We are strong in automotive and this gives us stability of loading. About 15 to 20 percent of our output is automotive. We still rely on consumer product demand, which can be lumpy, but it includes IoT in the form of smart-home and IoT also addresses industrial applications."

However, manufacturing utilization at Dresden still stands at 60 percent, Morgenstern said. "We have a plan from corporate and we will improve through 2019."

Morgenstern makes the point that until the end of 2017 Globalfoundries in Dresden was focused on 22FDX and it takes time to bring up the additional modules for that process and to bring in older CMOS processes and then to get customers signed up and designing. It is quite a long pipeline. "Also, ultimately the time-line is determined by the customers."

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