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GlobalFoundries to produce 14nm chips in the first half of 2015

GlobalFoundries, the world’s second largest contract maker of semiconductors, plans to start volume production of chips using 14nm fabrication process in the first half of 2015, a little later than Samsung Electronics, but, possibly, earlier than Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. The company does not reveal who will be the first customers to use the manufacturing technology, but claims that there will be at least a number of them.

“We plan to begin volume production with a 14nm LPE (low power early) process in the first half of 2015 and then push ahead with a 14nm LPP (low power plus) process in the second half of the year,” said Chuck Fox, senior vice president of global sales at GlobalFoundries, in an interview with DigiTimes.

Samsung Electronics recently confirmed that it had begun mass production of chips using 14nm LPE fabrication process. The company did not reveal what kind of chips it makes and for whom, but market rumours suggest that at least one chip is Samsung’s own Exynos application processor for next-generation Galaxy S6 smartphone, whereas other chip or chips are intended for Apple’s future consumer electronics devices, such as Apple Watch.

The cleanroom at GLOBALFOUNDRIES' Fab 1 in Dresden, Germany

GlobalFoundries will make chips using 14LPE fabrication process for numerous undisclosed customers, one of which could be Apple. The majority of GF’s customers reportedly prefer more advanced 14LPP fabrication process, which is supposedly due to be available in the second half of 2015.

“Based on chip design projects commissioned by our clients, we believe a number of clients will produce wafer starts using 14nm LPE process initially,” said Mr. Fox. “However, we expect the number of clients as well as wafer orders to grow robustly when we enter the 14nm LPP process, which will help ramp up our market share and sales significantly.”

One of the most interesting things to find out is whether AMD plans to use GlobalFoundries’ services to make chips using 14LPE or 14LPP fabrication processes in 2015. Officially, the chip designer implies that next year it will sell chips made using 20nm and 28nm manufacturing technologies, but, perhaps, the company does not disclose all of its plans and there are surprises incoming.

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KitGuru Says: One of the key things about GlobalFoundries 14nm plans is whether the company will beat TSMC with 14nm FinFET time-to-market. TSMC is on-track to start volume production of chips using 16nm FinFET process technology in late Q2 or early Q3 2015. If both Samsung and GlobalFoundries are ahead of TSMC, then this will mean a lot for the foundry industry.

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