Sunday, May 10th 2020

Did GlobalFoundries Give Up 7nm to Chase Silicon Photonics Manufacturing?

A Forbes report provides a fascinating peek into something that could explain GlobalFoundries stalling its 7 nm-class silicon fabrication plans, and shedding much of its offshore foundry bulk, other than just fiscal prudence. Apparently, the company has been making moves in silicon photonics, benefiting from few of the 16,000+ patents and other forms of IP it inherited from the IBM Microelectronics business acquisition from 2015. In particular, GlobalFoundries appears interested in high-bandwidth networking physical-layer applications that involve photonics and fiber-optics.

GlobalFoundries has reportedly been engaging with customers in the telecom- and data-center industries since 2016 in offering medium-range networking physical-layer solution, providing 40 Gbps bandwidths over distances of up to 10 km (without repeaters in the middle). In 2017, it partnered with Ayar Labs to develop an optical I/O chip. This solution combines Ayar's optical CMOS I/O tech with GloFo's 45 nm CMOS process to 10x the bandwidth at 1/5th the power of a copper-based I/O. By 2018, the combine qualified a platform that can push up to 100 Gbps per wavelength, and up to 800 Gbps on the client-side. By 2019, the combine developed a supercomputing chiplet co-packed with an Intel silicon as part of DARPA's PIPES (Photonics in Package for Extreme Scalability) project. With network bandwidth demand on an exponential rise with the advent of 5G, I guess you can say that the future for GloFo's silicon photonics business looks bright.
Source: Forbes
Add your own comment

7 Comments on Did GlobalFoundries Give Up 7nm to Chase Silicon Photonics Manufacturing?

#1
R-T-B
IBM's patent portfolio in silicon land was extensive, I'm sure there are many things they aquired they don't intend to just sit idle on.
Posted on Reply
#2
watzupken
I feel another reason for them giving up 7nm is the cost. Sure the benefits may be great if they can it up and running, but the initial cost is likely very high. Furthermore, it is not a 1 off cost and with competition so intense, you will need to keep investing more $$$ to keep up with TSMC and Samsung. If you don't have the economies of scale like the big boys, this is going to be an uphill battle. Better off finding something that is still lucretive without the intense heat.
Posted on Reply
#3
londiste
watzupkenI feel another reason for them giving up 7nm is the cost. Sure the benefits may be great if they can it up and running, but the initial cost is likely very high. Furthermore, it is not a 1 off cost and with competition so intense, you will need to keep investing more $$$ to keep up with TSMC and Samsung. If you don't have the economies of scale like the big boys, this is going to be an uphill battle. Better off finding something that is still lucretive without the intense heat.
TSMC, Samsung and Intel are all putting $10+ billions a year into R&D these days. This is the cost to chase cutting edge manufacturing processes.
GF did not give up 7nm manufacturing to chase silicon photonics. They had to give up chasing 7nm, mostly due to financial reasons, and now looks like they found a new potentially lucrative direction.
Posted on Reply
#4
DeathtoGnomes
GlobalFoundries appears interested in high-bandwidth networking physical-layer applications that involve photonics and fiber-optics.
ISPs will likely push back hard on this, their iron hand over bandwidth and pricing weakens everytime there is an evolution in bandwidth management. A big part of the reason cable companies fight against having fiber-optics installed in local areas. Which is why there will no major jumps in bandwidth for the next decade or two, low-income areas will suffer sub 250mb service for the next 2-3 decades.
Posted on Reply
#5
londiste
DeathtoGnomesISPs will likely push back hard on this, their iron hand over bandwidth and pricing weakens everytime there is an evolution in bandwidth management. A big part of the reason cable companies fight against having fiber-optics installed in local areas. Which is why there will no major jumps in bandwidth for the next decade or two, low-income areas will suffer sub 250mb service for the next 2-3 decades.
This gets entirely offtopic but is that coming from US-centric perspective?

ISPs love fiber optics and other high-bandwidth solutions but only if they are cost-effective. Fiber optics is not simple and not cheap. Even more so when laying it down to a large and/or sparsely populated area. ISPs do not mind a bit if they are to have more bandwidth available but they are concerned about who pays for it.

In my country a lot of the fiber-optic backbone of country's Internet outside bigger settlements has been funded publicly or semi-publicly. This would absolutely not be feasible financially for a single ISP to do. There are always lobby groups, ownership disputes, suspected foul play and the like with an undertaking of that sort but the bottom line is that there is a fiber optic network in the ground that anyone (due to technical reasons, mostly limited to ISPs) can use, obviously for a fee.

From viewpoint of an established ISP, there is an argument to be made if public infrastructure is built next to an sufficient existing infrastructure but that works on a very case-by-case basis.
Posted on Reply
#6
DeathtoGnomes
londisteThis gets entirely offtopic but is that coming from US-centric perspective?

ISPs love fiber optics and other high-bandwidth solutions but only if they are cost-effective. Fiber optics is not simple and not cheap. Even more so when laying it down to a large and/or sparsely populated area. ISPs do not mind a bit if they are to have more bandwidth available but they are concerned about who pays for it.

In my country a lot of the fiber-optic backbone of country's Internet outside bigger settlements has been funded publicly or semi-publicly. This would absolutely not be feasible financially for a single ISP to do. There are always lobby groups, ownership disputes, suspected foul play and the like with an undertaking of that sort but the bottom line is that there is a fiber optic network in the ground that anyone (due to technical reasons, mostly limited to ISPs) can use, obviously for a fee.

From viewpoint of an established ISP, there is an argument to be made if public infrastructure is built next to an sufficient existing infrastructure but that works on a very case-by-case basis.
very few ISPs here have fiber optics. Keep in mind that ISPs in yours and other countries are not the same, different laws, same kind of greed, different goals, different ways to screw the consumer over. While it might be off topic for your country, its not for mine.
Posted on Reply
#7
remixedcat
Here we have 2 cable ISPs that have 2Gbps service. There is only 1 or 2 fiber providers and they are biz only.. zayo and att. I think there's a 3rd but forget the name ..
Posted on Reply
Copyright © 2004-2021 www.techpowerup.com. All rights reserved.
All trademarks used are properties of their respective owners.