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Samsung, GlobalFoundries ink exclusive, multi-year 14nm FinFET deal

Customers can 'save literally hundreds of millions of dollars in design costs,' they claim

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Samsung and GlobalFoundries have announced a collaborative agreement that will enable 14-nanometer FinFET chippery to be manufactured at Samsung's fabs in Hwaseong, South Korea and Austin, Texas, as well as at GlobalFoundries' fab in Saratoga, New York.

"This is a paradigm change to the foundry landscape," GlobalFoundries VP of product management Ana Hunter said in an announcement video.

Samsung VP of foundry marketing Shawn Han was equally effusive. "This is a game-changer," he said. "Samsung and GlobalFoundries are fundamentally changing the supply-chain model for foundry services."

The 14nm FinFET process to be shared was developed by Samsung and licensed to GlobalFoundries in a multi-year, exclusive deal. According to the joint announcement, the process provides improvements over current 20nm planar tech that result in up to 20 per cent higher speeds, 35 per cent less power consumption, and 15 per cent area-scaling savings.

"The technology features a smaller contacted gate pitch for higher logic packing density and smaller SRAM bitcells to meet the increasing demand for memory content in advanced SoCs," the companies claim.

AMD's SVP and GM of global business units Lisa Su also waxed enthusiastically about the partnership. "This unprecedented collaboration will result in a global capacity footprint for 14nm FinFET technology that provides AMD with enhanced capabilities to bring our innovative IP into silicon on leading-edge technologies," she said.

Fabless SoC designers can begin to take advantage of the agreement immediately, with PDKs – process design kits – available today, and mass production scheduled to begin at the end of this year.

The benefit to those customers, the two companies assert, will be that they'll have access to the same process and the same design tools to make use of it in multiple locations around the globe. Those customers can "save literally hundreds of millions of dollars in design costs," says Hunter.

With Intel also getting into the business of manufacturing chips for fabless IP designers – including ARM-based chips – and with TSMC forecasting double-digit growth in both revenue and profit this year, the wafer-baking world is beginning to get a lot more interesting. ®

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