RealTime IT News

AMD Spinoff GlobalFoundries Gets Aggressive

AMD's former chip fabrication plants haven't been in business for a year, but they are certainly off to the races in the drive to get business. GlobalFoundries, the spin-off firm that's mostly at arm's length from AMD (NYSE: AMD), is racking up business and talent pretty fast.

That may have Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (TSMC) nervous, especially after the big plunge in business earlier this year and GF recently pinching one of its executives. Last month, GF hired Subramani Kengeri away from TSMC to be its vice president of design solutions. Kengeri had served as TSMC's senior director of design and technology and head of its North America Design Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.

GF also nabbed Mojy Chian to serve as senior vice president of design enablement. He came from Altera, which was closely aligned with TSMC. Finally, GF picked up Gregg Bartlett as senior vice president of technology and R&D from Freescale Semiconductor. He will oversee GlobalFoundries' collaborative R&D activities with the IBM Alliance.

Another reason to feel uneasy: nVidia, one of TSMC's bigger accounts, is in talks with GlobalFoundries. A spokesperson for nVidia confirmed the GPU chip maker is in talks but would not elaborate. nVidia and AMD are in a race to reach 40nm GPU design, and unlike AMD vs. Intel, this race is pretty competitive.

Most recently, GlobalFoundries announced it has begun High-K Metal Gate development that would enable it to design processors at 22nm, although it did not say when such technology would be available. By way of reference, Intel has begun work on 32nm and is aiming for 22nm in two years. TSMC last year was struggling with 45nm before finally getting things straightened out.

Dean McCarron, president of Mercury Research, said it makes sense for nVidia to talk to GlobalFoundries, even if it is connected to its only real competitor in the marketplace.

"Typically, what happens is suppliers will keep more than one foundry operational so there isn't too much risk involved," he told InternetNews.com. "I wouldn't expect [nVidia] to shut down all business with TSMC but some migration wouldn't be surprising."

Changes at TSMC

Meanwhile, there have been some changes in TSMC's executive ranks. Last week, its 77-year-old founder and chairman Morris Chang took over the CEO position from Rick Tsai, who had been president and CEO of TSMC since 2005. Tsai had been instrumental in striking the manufacturing deal with Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) last April, in which TSMC would make Atom processors.

Tsai will serve as president of the New Business Development Organization, reporting directly to Chang. According to a report in the Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, the new group will focus on new markets like LED and solar.

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