One of the trends in semiconductor integration is the use of aggressive packaging and system-in-package techniques. Is it something that Globalfoundries is considering?
"At Globalfoundries the focus is on ICs. We have used external packaging firms. But I do see tremendous leverage across packaging. And we have a bump-and-test facility here in Dresden.
Wafer bumping is a process where bumps or balls of solder are formed on whole wafers prior to dicing into individual chips. It can be a stage in conventional packaging but also supports flipchip or board level semiconductor packaging. "We have the mask shop here, the foundry and the bump-and-test facility, so that may be something we can make use of," said Morgenstern.
Morgenstern states that Globalfoundries is building up the ecosystem around Dresden in other ways of which one of the most concrete was the recent creation of Sensry GmbH. The company was created by Globalfoundries, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and venture capital firm The Next Big Thing AG (see GloFo, Fraunhofer, NBT launch startup for IoT chips). Sensry is the result of a research project funded by the regional authority of Saxony and the European Union on a universal sensor platform.
"It is quite expensive for small and medium enterprises to access silicon. So Sensry provides a chance to access the technology of standardized platform at lower cost. We are looking at this and other such projects to form a smart-system hub here," said Morgenstern.
The wheels of justice
One of the news stories reported in 2018 and that preceded Globalfoundries' decision to drop leading-edge FinFET manufacturing process development, was the allegation that rival foundry TSMC was abusing a dominant position in the foundry market and preventing other foundries from competing (see Report: Globalfoundries asks China to probe TSMC and Report: GlobalFoundries accuses TSMC of unfair selling).
TSMC always denied the allegations and promised full cooperation with any legal inquiries, but the story has not gone away.
Indeed, there is a risk that as Globalfoundries is now operating behind the leading-edge, competitor foundries might try to bundle sales of leading-edge wafers and more-than-Moore wafers together preventing fair competition.
"We understand that questionnaires have gone out to a number of companies about anti-competitive practices in the semiconductor space. We appreciate that the European Commission is enforcing the rules in one the most critical sectors enabling economic and industrial advances," said a spokesperson for Globalfoundries.
Next: Not for sale