On Monday, GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF), the specialty foundry that is owned by the United Arab Emirates’ $232 billion sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Management, announced a strategic partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Under the terms of the partnership, GF will manufacture a “secure and reliable supply of semiconductor solutions” at its Fab 8 facility in Malta, New York, the company’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility. These semiconductor chips will be used in some of the DoD’s most sensitive applications for land, air, sea, and space systems.
The agreement is made possible by Fab 8’s compliance with U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and very restrictive Export Control Classification Numbers under U.S. Export Administration Regulations (EAR).
The new supply agreement builds upon a longstanding partnership between the DoD and GF to provide chips for defense, aerospace, and other sensitive applications. GF currently supplies the DoD with chips manufactured at GF’s other on-shore facilities, Fab 10 in East Fishkill, New York, and Fab 9 in Burlington, Vermont. GF, a leader in SOI-based (silicon-on-insulator) technology for the production of semiconductor chips, is widely expected to have a foundational impact on the emerging global 5G ecosystem.
“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. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who successfully passed 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.”
“This agreement with GLOBALFOUNDRIES is just one step the Department of Defense is taking to ensure the U.S. sustains the microelectronics manufacturing capability necessary for national and economic security,” read an official Department of Defense statement on the partnership. “This is a pre-cursor to major efforts contemplated by the recently passed CHIPS for America Act, championed by Senator Charles Schumer, which will allow for the sustainment and on-shoring of U.S. microelectronics capability.”
“GLOBALFOUNDRIES thanks Senator Schumer for his leadership, his ongoing support of our industry, and his forward-looking perspective on the semiconductor supply chain,” said GF CEO Tom Caulfield. “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. 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. GF is in ongoing discussions with the DoD regarding Trusted Accreditation for Fab 8.
GF employs nearly 3,000 people at Fab 8, and has invested more than $13 billion in the facility. The company recently announced a land purchase option to provide additional flexibility to expand Fab 8’s footprint to support growing demand from the U.S. government and industry customers. In total, GF employs more than 7,000 people across the U.S., and over the past 10 years has invested $15 billion in U.S. semiconductor development.
Last fall, GF announced a partnership with California’s largest nonprofit startup incubator EvoNexus to accelerate the growth and commercialization of semiconductor startups developing breakthrough products in wireless and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
Also last fall, GF announced a multi-year supply agreement with French semiconductor materials producer Soitec for the 300mm radio frequency silicon-on-insulator (RF-SOI) wafers used in smartphones and other next-generation wireless devices.
“Eight out of ten smartphones on the market today include GLOBALFOUNDRIES manufactured silicon, and the demand for our differentiated RF solutions continues to skyrocketed as the industry transitions to 5G,” said Dr. Bami Bastani, Senior VP and General Manager for GF’s Mobile and Wireless Infrastructure. “The 5G revolution would not be possible without GLOBALFOUNDRIES and our industry-leading specialty RF solutions. Securing this critical supply of wafers, from our longstanding partner Soitec, enables GF to meet the ever-growing demand for our 5G solutions.”