By R.J. DeLuke
GlobalFoundries is still moving forward with plans to expand at its plant in Malta.
The company said abut $1.4 billion will be invested in projects at three of its sites, the others being Singapore and Dresden, Germany.
Some media reports in March said the $1.4 billion will be split approximately in thirds as money goes to all three.
But Laurie Kelly, GlobalFoundries vice president, global communications, said “it’s not as precise as of right now” as to how much each project will get. “All of our sites will grow where it makes the most sense.”
Nonetheless, millions of dollars can be expected. She said there are still many things that have to be worked out, including the subsidies and incentives to be provided by the U.S. government and the state of New York as parts of the CHIPS for America Act passed last year. The funding has not yet been appropriated.
“The funds from the federal CHIPS bill will absolutely accelerate the plans to grow the site,” Kelly said. “The beauty of the CHIPS bill is it has bipartisan support. So that’s a bonus in terms of appropriations. We have a new administration. … Obviously we would love (the appropriation) sooner rather than later. But I can’t venture to guess when it would happen.”
Growing demand for chips has made clear the need for faster than normal growth at GlobalFoundries, leading to the expansion plans.
In June of last year, the company secured a purchase option agreement for approximately 66 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the Fab 8 Malta facility. The parcel is located at the southeast end of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Saratoga Technology + Energy Park (STEP) campus, adjacent to Stonebreak Road Extension.
If the company decides to exercise the option to purchase the land for development, it would be subject to zoning regulations and client demand.
There exists within the current facility a vast space that is vacant. It was built with the possibility of future expansion in mind.
“There is still opportunity for us to grow within that existing amazing site,” said Kelly, and some of the planned expansion will be in that already-existing space.
She said that throughout the COVID lockdown and the added safety procedures required, GlobalFoundries, as an essential business, has been “running fullsteam ahead” with no difficulties requiring major quarantine.
“Keeping our employees safe is our number-one priority. Then meeting all this exploding demand is number two … With all safety measures, and we’ve been able to do that,” Kelly said.
GlobalFoundries expects to raise around a third of $1.4 billion from its customers that will pre-pay to guarantee supply over the following years, according to the company.
Regarding financial incentives provided to the company when it located in Malta, Kelly said GlobalFoundries looks at it more as “co-investment.”
When $15 billion was put into U.S. operations some 12 years ago, “New York co-invested and received an incredible return on their investment … We’ve had excellent support, but a little less so at the federal level. And now, the federal government recognizes the strategic value of manufacturing chips in the U.S.”
Fab 8 in Malta recently received ITAR certification for U.S. Department of Defense production on its 45nm process, expanding GlobalFoundries’ value as a home-grown chip manufacturer to the government.
GlobalFoundries officials said the local plant is the company’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility. These semiconductor chips will be used in some of the Department of Defense’s most sensitive applications for land, air, sea, and space systems, officials said in a new release.
Under the agreement, GlobalFoundries will provide a supply of chips built at Fab 8 on its differentiated 45nm SOI platform. The new supply agreement builds upon the longstanding partnership between the Department of Defense and GlobalFoundries to provide chips for defense, aerospace, and other sensitive applications.
“GlobalFoundries is a critical part of a domestic semiconductor manufacturing industry that is a requirement for our national security and economic competitiveness,” said U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who helped pass new federal semiconductor manufacturing incentives in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“I have long advocated for GlobalFoundries as a key supplier of chips to our military and intelligence community, including pressing the new Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, to further expand the Department of Defense’s business with GlobalFoundries, which will help expand their manufacturing operations and create even more jobs in Malta.”
“We are proud to strengthen our longstanding partnership with the U.S. government, and extend this collaboration to produce a new supply of these important chips at our most advanced facility, Fab 8, in upstate New York,” said Tom Caulfield, CEO of GlobalFoundries. “We are taking action and doing our part to ensure America has the manufacturing capability it needs, to meet the growing demand for U.S. made, advanced semiconductor chips for the nation’s most sensitive defense and aerospace applications.”
The first chips from this new agreement are targeted to begin delivery in 2023.