There has been more talk than ever in the past 18 months about the lack of high tech manufacturing in the US. This was highlighted in the recent election, and Apple was dragged through the mud a bit afterward with its China-only iPhone manufacturing. I was reminded last week that there is, in fact, bleeding edge technology manufacturing done in the US. I had the unique chance to tour the secret insides of GLOBALFOUNDRIES aka “GF” Fab 8 in Malta, New York, and want to share with you some of the key takeaways. After touring the facilities and meeting with senior executives, I can safely say the company’s claim of “the most advanced pure-play semiconductor factory campus in the U.S.” is accurate. If you want to listen to a podcast I did with Shrout Research analyst Ryan Shrout and Tom Caulfield, SVP of GlobalFoundries and GM, you can find it here.
What’s a fab?
First off, let me explain what a “fab” is for those who do not engage in “chippery.” A fab is a fancy name for a chip factory. There are many different classes of fabs, and the fabs that build chips with the most sophisticated technology are called “leading-edge.” There are only four companies with leading-edge fabs: GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Intel, Samsung Electronics, and Taiwan Semiconductor aka TSMC. Only GF and TSMC are pure-play “foundries” or those who build chips other companies design. Intel and Samsung Electronics have some foundry business but are primarily are IDMs (integrated device manufacturers) and primarily build chips designed in-house. Intel’s foundry operations have been of a quick ramp but from a very small base. The Samsung Electronics foundry business has been hit or miss based on how many Apple designs it gets.
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