GlobalFoundries chips away at top spot [National, The (United Arab Emirates)]
(National, The (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) GlobalFoundries is now the second biggest foundry in the world. Above, one of the company's clean rooms in Dresden, Fermany. Jeff Topping / The National
GlobalFoundries, a microchip manufacturer owned by Abu Dhabi, plans to become the leading market player in the next five years and has confirmed a factory planned for the capital will be built.
The company, which is fully owned by Advanced Technology Investment Company (Atic), said it had become the second biggest manufacturer of semiconductor chips by revenue in the world earlier this year.
Ajit Manocha, the chief executive of GlobalFoundries, said the manufacturer now made more in sales than its competitor UMC, but was still some way behind the market leader TSMC. Both competitors are Taiwanese.
"GlobalFoundries strategy is very clear. We want to be the leading-edge foundry provider for the world," he said, following a speech in New York, attended by Barack Obama, the US president.
"At this stage, we are now the number-two foundry in the world. [TSMC] is significantly ahead of us. It might take three to five years [to pass them]."
Atic, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, helped to set up GlobalFoundries with the US semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices in 2009.
GlobalFoundries has two manufacturing factories, in Singapore and Germany, and is in the process of developing one in upstate New York. Mubadala spent Dh16 billion (US$4.3bn) last year in relation to Atic, principally on the expansion of the factory in Germany, equipment purchases in Singapore and construction of its new facility in New York.
The New York plant will be run by a 1,300-strong workforce, which will eventually grow to 1,600, nearly all of whom are highly qualified from degree-level upwards.
"This is great for GlobalFoundries employees," said Mr Manocha. "To be part of the most advanced, state-of-the-art fab [fabrication or manufacturing plant] in the world."
The chip maker had planned to begin building a manufacturing facility in Abu Dhabi this year but delayed the project to focus its energies on the New York plant.
Mr Manocha said such a plant in the capital was definitely going to happen at some point, but he did not specify a time.
"Abu Dhabi is an integral part of the strategy. This is a question of when not if," he said. "In order for us to be successful, we are building a strong foundation. Once we have a foundation, it makes sense to go to Abu Dhabi. We will come to Abu Dhabi."
Because of the high-tech nature of the industry and high level of expertise required, the plant in New York cost about $4 billion. A plant in Abu Dhabi would require a similar investment.
"This business really depends on a high level of education and success," said Mr Manocha.
With the US presidential elections to begin later this year, Mr Obama was in New York to demonstrate the quality and quantity of jobs that can be created from an industry, such as semiconductor chips, in an area of New York state that is fast developing into a technology hub.
"This is something near and dear to his heart," said Mr Manocha. "It's bringing jobs back to America and innovation into America."
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