GlobalFoundries, which has approvals to build a second semiconductor plant at Fab 8 in Malta, will be establishing its next chip fabrication plant in China.
The company announced Tuesday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Chongqing to convert an existing fab building to a 300-mm wafer plant to be operated by GlobalFoundries.
The Santa Clara, California-headquartered company has chip plants in Singapore; Dresden, Germany; and the northeastern United States, but this would be its first production facility in China.
“China is the fastest-growing semiconductor market, with more than half of the world’s semiconductor consumption and a growing ecosystem of fabless companies competing on a global scale,” GlobalFoundries CEO Sanjay Jha said in a statement.
Many of the chips GlobalFoundries makes go into electronic products that are assembled in China, such as smartphones.
As a foundry, GlobalFoundries makes computer chips to order for electronics companies that don’t have their own chip plants. GlobalFoundries is the second-largest foundry company in the world.
The plan includes upgrading an existing semiconductor plant to handle 300-mm wafers, the current industry standard. The company said it will install production technologies now in use at its Singapore plants.
The start of production is planned for 2017.
In a statement released by GlobalFoundries, Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan said Chongqing has been working to develop a technology manufacturing cluster in and around the city.
“GlobalFoundries is a world-famous [integrated circuit] manufacturing company, and we welcome them to participate through cooperation to achieve mutual benefit and win-win,” Huang Qifan said in a statement.
Chongqing is a city of over 8 million people with a regional population of about 30 million in Sichuan Province, in southwest China.
GlobalFoundries employs 2,900 people at its $12 billion Fab 8 plant in the Luther Forest Technology Campus, which began volume production in 2012.
In 2013, the towns of Malta and Stillwater approved plans for a second factory in Luther Forest. Since that time, however, GlobalFoundries has said that the timing of when it pursues those plans will depend on market conditions.
“This joint venture shouldn’t have any impact to our local operations,” said GlobalFoundries spokesman Jason Gorss. “The fab in Chongqing will run mature process technologies transferred from our Singapore site.”
Gorss wouldn’t say how much money is going to be invested by GlobalFoundries.
Under the joint venture arrangement, he said Chongqing will provide the land, the buildings, and the infrastructure of an existing 200-mm manufacturing facility, and GlobalFoundries will provide the tools to upgrade the fab to 300 mm.
In using mature technologies, Gorss said, the Chongqing plant will not be comparable to the Malta factory, the company’s most-advanced plant, where it makes 14-nanometer chips.
GlobalFoundries also owns former IBM plants in Dutchess County and in Essex Junction, Vermont.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, firstname.lastname@example.org or @gazettesteve on Twitter.