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ARM and GlobalFoundries announce strategic partnership

by Scott Bicheno on 6 October 2009, 04:30


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The elephant in the room

The elephant in the room in this announcement is, of course, TSMC. GlobalFoundries has made no secret of its desire to challenge TSMC as the world's preeminent semiconductor foundry and working with ARM is a crucial step towards enticing its ecosystem away from TSMC.

As we implied in our previous analysis, ARM can't have been too chuffed when TSMC stood up and gave Intel a great big public hug earlier this year, as they showed off their special new SoC relationship. In fact, ARM registered its disproval two days later by getting all chummy with the new kid in the block - you guessed it: GlobalFoundries.

It's hard to tell whether this announcement is more or less significant and far-reaching than the Intel/TSMC one, but there does seem to be a greater exchange of IP involved. We also suspect that this is just the first in a series of announcements on this topic and are confident that we're going to see some more juicy news from ARM at its TechCon 3 event later this month.

While TSMC is still the foundry of choice for manufacturing processes of 40nm and above, GlobalFoundries clearly wants to be where fabless semiconductor companies turn to for the next generation of SoCs that will start to be produced next year.

With the smartphone market set to explode as we exit the global recession, if GlobalFoundries succeeds in luring in the likes of Freescale, Texas Instruments and even NVIDIA away from TSMC to manufacture their ARM Cortex A9 based SoCs on the 28nm process, it will have struck a major blow.


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