We know that GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF) is known for offering a unique combination of advanced technology, manufacturing excellence, and global operations. The rise of new technologies such as IoT and the cloud continues to fuel new market segments. Where do you see the opportunities going forward as it seeks to enable its customers to capitalize on the opportunities that are beginning to open up to them
GF is one of the world's largest full-portfolio, dedicated semiconductor foundries, and we recognize the significance of the business and technology trends of IoT and the cloud. We believe that IoT and the cloud are two drivers of a broader technology transition that our CEO, Sanjay Jha, refers to as the era of “Enabling Connected Intelligence.” In this newly developing era of Connected Intelligence, IoT-based sensors collect real-time data of many different categories. This data is transmitted via disparate local and wide-area wireless and other networks (including mmWave 5G and other broadband cellular) to data centers hosting sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI)-based computing platforms. These AI platforms are capable of analyzing and synthesizing these massive data sets and ultimately render automated actions and user recommendations based on the processed information. In the not-to-distant future, these actions will be much more sophisticated and impactful than today’s notifications and alerts from social networking platforms, and will become more embedded in everyday life. GF sees tremendous opportunities in Connected Intelligence and our portfolio of solutions is well suited to serve IoT, because of our unparalleled strengths of our manufacturing solutions for the connectivity, broadband communication, and computing market segments.
Some technology is industry specific and some technology is very generalized. When you think about our evolving technology base, how do you think about things?
So let me first address the generalized technologies and manufacturing solutions that GF offers. The most general category of semiconductor manufacturing is known as Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) in which numerous integrated circuits are embedded in silicon wafers that we manufacture. These integrated circuits can range in line widths from hundreds of nanometers in our mature processes to single-digit nanometers in our most advanced processes currently under development. GF is one of only two dedicated foundries that support the full range of mature to leading-edge CMOS solutions found in products like the main processor of your smartphone or your laptop, or the graphics chip in your standalone gaming product
Now, our industry-specific solutions come from three main initiatives. The first is our fully-depleted, silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI) technology, which we have trademarked as FDX(™). FDX is a very special CMOS solution that we have developed to serve applications requiring high performance, but also with long standby times or long battery life. FDX is also ideally suited to wireless communication devices, such as IoT edge devices and smartphone modems.
Our second industry-specific solution category is that of our Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) business. GF's ASIC organization's roots go back to IBM Microelectronics, which was highly regarded (and still is under GF's ownership today) as a supplier of highly specialized broadband networking chips and high-performance computing chips destined for the most advanced networks and computing platforms. As silicon and software solutions become more affordable to more companies in more industries, we expect our ASIC capabilities to be in high demand among companies which lack traditional silicon design capability.
Our third high-level industry-specific solution category is RF, which stands for Radio Frequency, or wireless. GF is a global industry leader in two specific RF manufacturing technologies, Silicon Germanium (SiGe) and RF Silicon on Insulator (RF-SOI). These RF solutions are widely adopted by the world's leading designers of smartphone radios, industrial equipment and demanding aerospace and defense (A&D) applications, to name but several of the major industry-specific applications.
From the beginning Global Foundries has positioned itself to operate as partners with your customers. Over time, such ecosystems have grown in complexity. Can you talk about how such ecosystems have evolved and might continue to adapt as the needs of your customers continues to change
You are right to characterize the semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem as complex and becoming more complex with time. In addition to our customers who send us their integrated circuit designs, our ecosystem partners include important independent companies that provide design and technical support. For example, the electronic design automation (EDA) companies provide software tools for designing integrated circuits, or chips. Then there are design IP firms who sell core functional building blocks that GF and our customers use in the design of their chips. There are also design services firms that our customers use to augment their own internal design teams. Finally, there are packaging and testing specialists capable of conducting the required post-processing of our finished wafers for implementation by our customers
Today, our offering is also attracting a rapidly expanding array of new, non-traditional system-level customers in industries ranging from retail to social media to automotive and IoT. These are often companies lacking long-standing silicon design capabilities, yet some are seeking to partner directly with silicon manufacturers like GF. For this exciting new customer category, we need to be creative and flexible in order to help them realize the value proposition stemming from a relationship with a semiconductor foundry.
While GF recognizes the importance of providing world-class direct support to our customers, we also recognize that our success depends on a diverse and vibrant ecosystem of the types of companies mentioned above. Besides the foundry services provided by GF, our customers rely on a large ecosystem of other suppliers and specialists who can provide complementary products and services to accelerate their time to market and enable the assured delivery of differentiated products
This ecosystem support has become increasingly important to this industry as chip design complexity has skyrocketed with each advancing foundry node. On top of this, time-to-market windows in many consumer and industrial markets are shrinking. The net result of these trends has been an elevated recognition of the importance of the foundry services ecosystem in the semiconductor industry
Thank you very much for your questions and allowing us to elaborate on GF's positioning in the fast-moving semiconductor manufacturing sector!