The market for automotive electronics is growing rapidly. While the market observers from McKinsey estimate it to be worth 35 billion dollars for the current year, it will have grown by 50 percent by 2023 – a CAGR of 7 percent. One area is growing particularly fast: Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). For this segment, McKinsey even estimates an average annual growth rate of 19 percent. Microcontrollers, analog and power arresters account for about 80 percent of the value of these semiconductors. Semiconductor foundry GlobalFoundries is throwing its hat into the ring. ”We have the right technologies to serve this market,” said Juan D. Cordovez, Region Head, Sales EMEA at the GlobalFoundries Technology Forum (GTC).
The demand for chips from the automotive industry is leading to a rebalancing of the equilibrium between the semiconductor and automotive industry. “In the past, chip manufacturers approached carmakers and Tier-one-suppliers and simply sold them their products,” explains Cordovez. “Today, the situation is more complex. It is no longer possible to simply sell a product off the shelf; the added value is the result of a system understanding”.
This means that the products are no longer developed, manufactured and sold by one side, while the other side uses these products as they are delivered. Instead, product design takes place in an interactive process. The foundry model pursued by GloFo is also subject to change. “We are more involved in the design, and we deliver critical IP. And we build ecosystems with 3rd parties. These ecosystems enable our customers to either accelerate development cycles or implement competitive functions in the first place,” says Cordovez.
Not only the OEMs and semiconductor manufacturers as Tier-two suppliers are involved in the reorientation of the development process; Tier-one suppliers are also involved when it comes to developing new technologies for ADAS, sensors or power controllers. According to Cordovez, the focus of his knowledge is still on the Tier ones. “but the ecosystems are growing.”
In these ecosystems, semiconductor manufacturers are not alone with Tier ones and OEMs. In addition to chip experts, this includes software specialists as well as manufacturing knowledge and system, design and packaging IP – all areas in which GloFo can make a significant contribution.
A significant opportunity to further improve GloFo’s standing in the automotive industry could be the company’s 22DFX FDSOI process. “Our 22FDX mmWave RF solution allows the integration of millimeter wave circuitry, DSP, MCU, SRAM and eRAM into a single chip automotive solution,” said Mark Grangerm Vice President Automotive Product Line Management at GlobalFoundries. “This technology enables, for example, highly integrated automotive radar solutions.” Likewise, GloFo positions its eMRAM memory technology (on the same process platform) for automotive applications. Such devices offer much faster write speed than competing eFlash, much better endurance with more than 10E6 write cycles and higher versatility since eMRAM components can serve as code storage and RAM at the same time.
However, one thing will not happen, Cordovez assures: “GloFo will not compete against its own customers in the semiconductor industry. “Our goal is definitely not to become a design company.”
At the event, GloFo also commented on media reports that the EU Commission is considering taking action against its competitor TSMC for unfair distribution practices. “We are not surprised that the EC is looking into anti-competitive market practices and abusive conduct in the semiconductor sector”, GloFo explained in a prepared statement. “The semiconductor industry has a history of being dominated by a few firms. For example TSMC, a company currently larger than Intel in market capitalization, has a virtual lock on supply”. It is prudent for the regulator to monitor behaviors more closely and Globalfoundries will naturally support regulatory agencies as they take a closer look at this key industrial sector for Europe and the world.”