GlobalFoundries (GF) is joining Google’s open source silicon programme as a new partner, the company revealed in a blog post on August 3. Google referred to the new cooperation as a milestone in the foundry ecosystem industry. For the GlobalFoundries 180MCU technology platform, it is releasing the process design kit (PDK) under the Apache2.0 licence, along with a free silicon realisation programme to produce open source designs on the Efabless platform, which offers low-cost end-to-end chip creation solutions for academic institutions, research facilities, and startups.
“Based on the scale and breadth of GF’s technology and manufacturing expertise, we expect to do more together to further access and innovation in semiconductor development and manufacturing,” according to Google’s blog posted by its Hardware Toolchains Team.
According to the blog, the partnership between GlobalFoundries and Google is a clear reinforcement of the sustainability of the open source strategy for the foundry ecosystem and will assist drive innovation for the application and silicon engineers designing in these high-growth sectors. By distributing one of their PDKs under the Apache 2.0 licence, Google launched this collaboration alongside foundry service provider SkyWater Technologies. Over the course of two years, Google claimed to have sponsored six shuttle flights, enabling the open source community to submit more than 350 original designs, of which about 240 were produced without charge.
The blog noted that due to the exceptional acceleration of digital capability adoption, high-growth industries including mobile, IoT, and automotive now account for over 73 percent of GF’s foundry revenue. Megatrends in technology and the pandemic, which have affected every aspect of human life, were the driving forces behind it. According to GF, this change has resulted in a “New Golden Age” for semiconductors as well as a seismic shift in how our industry defines and delivers innovation.
Even though during the height of the chip crunch the US government redefined advanced semiconductor processing technology as 14nm nodes and below, GF claimed applications using 180nm have a global capacity of 16+ million wafers per year and are expected to reach 22+ million wafers in 2026. Along with newer applications like IoT sensors, dual frequency RFID, and motor drives, the 180nm application sector continues to experience significant market demand in the areas of motor controllers, RFID, general-purpose MCUs, and PMIC.