According to Mark Granger, vice president of GlobalFoundries’ product line management, the IATF 16949 standard is a binding prerequisite for being allowed to manufacture semiconductor products for the automotive industry as a supplier. IATF 16949 is based on the existing ISO 16949 standard for quality assurance and supply chain protection but modified by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF, comprising of BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Fiat, Ford, GM, Renault and VW)) according to the needs of the automotive industry. In order to achieve such certification, semiconductor manufacturers must prove that they fully meet the strict safety and quality standards. Above all, this includes guaranteeing a failure rate of 1ppm, i.e. a maximum deviation per million parts produced. In addition to the certification requirements for the production site and manufacturing processes, GloFo’s 22FDX technology has also been qualified to meet these technological requirements.
The move enables the semiconductor foundry to grab a large piece of the booming market for automotive chips: Every car contains semiconductors with an average value of $375, estimates market researcher Wells Fargo Securities. By 2025, this value will almost double to $613, driven by automotive megatrends such as automated driving, advanced driver assistance systems, vehicle connectivity and electrification of the powertrain.
With its 22FDX process, GloFo targets primarily the ADAS market as the sweet spot for semiconductor manufacturers: In this segment, the chipmaker expects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19 percent for the decade ahead. 22FDX is a broad technology platform capable of covering all major automotive semiconductor applications, including RF, memories (volatile and NV) and millimeter wave applications.
The combination of CMOS and 22FDX will enable GloFo to build very competitive components for future hi-resolution radar applications. “This type of radar will compete with lidar at lower cost”, explained Granger. The availability of such cost-effective high-resolution radar systems could translate into a major leap forward fort autonomous driving: Lidar, one of the key technologies for robot vehicles is very expensive and thus regarded as an obstacle to the proliferation of such vehicles.
The production of automotive-certified components at the fab 1 has started. While GloFo declined to identify customers and products, Granger said that video processing devices for mirror replacements as well as GPS sensors will be among the first automotive-qualified ICs to be manufactured. By the end of the current year, first series vehicles will roll out on the streets with such chips inside, Granger said. The GloFo executive also did not like to commit himself to production figures for automotive products at fab 1. By the year 2024 / 2025, the company however expects that these devices will account for a share of the overall production capacity in fab 1 “well in the double-digit percentage range”.
While the 22FDX technology covers a broad range of signal handling and data processing applications, it however fails to cover another major market created by the further development of the car: The electrification of the power train requires power semiconductors at high quantities. GloFo intends to serve this market as well, albeit not through fab 1. Instead, GloFo manufactures power devices in another fab in Singapore, said Granger. In addition, power semiconductors are produced in fab 9, a former IBM fab. There, the automotive certification has not yet taken place. However, it is “on our road map”, said Granger.