x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

GlobalFoundries 'in profit' by 2015

Abu Dhabi-owned manufacturer expects to increase shipments of advanced silicon chips designed for smartphones and tablets.

GlobalFoundries has enjoyed 15 per cent growth in its overall capacity output year on year. Jeff Topping / The National
GlobalFoundries has enjoyed 15 per cent growth in its overall capacity output year on year. Jeff Topping / The National

GlobalFoundries, the silicon chip manufacturer wholly owned by Advanced Technology Investment Company (Atic), expects to be profitable by 2015 as it increases shipments of its advanced mobile chips.

"We expect to be a profitably sustainable enterprise by 2015 going forward," said Ibrahim Ajami, the chief executive of Atic, a subsidiary of Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.

"The growth in mobility and communications applications is our main driver of growth today."

The exponential rise in smartphones and tablet devices across the world have led to greater demand for faster silicon chips.

"Our growth in revenue is mainly coming from our advanced 32 nanometre and 28nm nodes," said Ajit Manocha, the chief executive of GlobalFoundries, refering to microchip benchmarks of size and speed.

Mr Manocha said the company had enjoyed 15 per cent growth in its overall capacity output year on year, with a 40 per cent year on year increase for its advanced nodes.

"By 2014 we will create the 14nm chip. This is extreme mobility. A human hair is 75,000nm," said Mr Manocha.

Such a chip will be even faster than anything currently available on the market and consume lower power, ideal for mobile devices.

"The semiconductor industry has become so essential and an important part of our life. When we initially made the decision to enter this industry [in 2008] we had no reference to smartphones. Back then we based our investment on the growth of the PC market and PC applications, but today what defines that growth is mobility," said Mr Ajami.

GlobalFoundries revenues have grown 34 per cent so far this year, compared with 2011. Capital expenditure is expected to reach about US$3.5 billion (Dh12.85bn) by the end of this year, down from more than $5bn last year. Mr Manocha expects capital expenditure to fall further still next year to $3bn.

This year GlobalFoundries completed a $5bn greenfield fabrication plant in New York that has created 1,800 direct jobs and 7,200 indirect jobs.

It joins the company's facilities in Germany and Singapore. Plans to open a similar plant in Abu Dhabi, however, continue to be delayed. Atic had initially hoped to complete the Abu Dhabi plant by 2015, but it is unclear when construction will begin.

"We were witnessing global slowdown and decided to reevaluate our capacity expansion plans. The goal is to ensure the facility will be here [in Abu Dhabi], but as Atic and GlobalFoundries we will not stop there. We want to build a general technology ecosystem, we believe it will be a core pillar of Abu Dhabi's economic make-up," said Mr Ajami.

In the past three years, Atic has invested Dh100m in research funding programmes, working with universities locally and globally to train Emirati talent.

"GlobalFoundries is Mubadala's largest asset today. It is a very important element we continue to focus on. It serves as a critical base for a lot of our training and gives access to massive facilities around the world where we send Emirati students," said Mr Ajami.

Atic, which is wholly owned by Mubadala, was founded as a means to diversify the emirate's economy and facilitate job creation. Atic helped to set up GlobalFoundries with the US-based semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices in 2009.

thamid@thenational.ae