MALTA — GlobalFoundries on Monday afternoon announced a significant change in strategy that will result in organizational changes and an unspecified number of employees losing their jobs.
The company’s Fab 8, a computer chip factory in Malta, employs about 3,300 people or did recently. The company isn’t disclosing the size of its current workforce locally or globally, or saying how many of these people will lose their jobs — only that it plans a less-than 5 percent global workforce reduction.
GlobalFoundries makes 14-nanometer chips at its Fab 8 foundry. It had begun a multibillion-dollar project to develop and bring to market 7-nanometer chips there, but said Monday it is changing course. It will put the 7-nanometer program on hold indefinitely and focus instead on refining its 14-nanometer offerings.
By doing so, the company is stepping out of the chip industry’s decades-long drive to squeeze more circuits into an ever-smaller amount of space. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.
GlobalFoundries CEO Thomas Caulfield, a former general manager of Fab 8, said more of the companies that GlobalFoundries supplies are designing applications to make best use of existing technology rather than push the limits of new technology, with a concurrent increase in price tag.
The company would not specify what impact this decision would have on the Capital Region, but did say a significant number of people working on the 7-nanometer effort would be reassigned to other tasks within the company, including the 14-nanometer products that are made at Fab 8.
Malta Town Supervisor Vincent DeLucia said GlobalFoundries notified him several hours before the public announcement, as it has with previous large decisions, which he appreciates, but it gave him no numbers.
“We don’t know exactly how many people will be laid off,” he said. “Obviously it will have some impact on the town of Malta.”
DeLucia continued: “This reinforces my position that I have taken since I’ve been here, and that is that the town of Malta needs to continue to expand its economic and community investments so we’re not dependent on one employer.”
Also Monday, GlobalFoundries announced it is establishing its ASIC business — application-specific integrated circuit — as a wholly owned subsidiary that will be independent of its foundry business.
The move, Caulfield said, will let GlobalFoundries serve customers that need scale or capacity beyond what it alone can provide — such as 7-nanometer technology.
Again, what impact, if any, this move will have on operations in and near the Capital Region was not specified. Along with Fab 8, the company has a presence at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute research in Albany and operates former IBM facilities in Dutchess County and Vermont.
Industry publications reported in June that GlobalFoundries had begun another, apparently separate, 5 percent reduction in its global workforce, which at the time totaled about 18,000.
The company would not specify the Capital Region impact of that round of job cuts, either.