Apple A9 chip likely driving Globalfoundries 14-nm expansion

“Apple is likely driving the 14-nanometer ramp at Globalfoundries, but is not a guaranteed customer, in our view,” Pacific Crest Securities’ Weston Twigg and Daniel Baksht write via Barron’s.

“We believe that Globalfoundries [owned by entities associated with the government of Abu Dhabi] is pushing hard to ramp 14 nanometer capacity in an effort to meet production plans for the Apple A9 chip,” Twigg and Baksht write. “However, we would be surprised if Globalfoundries can achieve required production and yield targets in time to intercept the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus refresh in September. This suggests that Samsung [of South Korea] will support most, if not all, of the 14 nm production for Apple initially. Still, Globalfoundries insisted that the 14 nm ramp will continue regardless of any near-term customer decisions, and that it expects to have enough demand to support its 14 nm production capacity when fully ramped.”

“We visited Globalfoundries’ Fab 8 in Malta, N.Y., on Wednesday. We observed a very crowded and active campus,” Twigg and Baksht write. “There is clearly a lot of activity underway, with equipment move-ins and the 14 nm process ramp-up being the focus.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully, it causes Samsung some pain ASAP.


  1. Hmm! Malta is about half way between Saratoga Springs and Troy, NY. Saratoga is a lovely area! Troy is not. I suspect the location has a lot to do with graduates and professors from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

    1. the whole albany, troy, schenectady area has lots of colleges with technical capabilities, including my alma mater siena. also remember that troy is the home of uncle sam! and potato chips were supposedly invented in saratoga, so chips in malta are appropriate.

  2. For the truly technically inclined, the issue really is what percentage of the chip is really 14 nm.

    No manufacturer’s chips are 100% 14 nm coming off their “14 nm line”. Intel’s flagship chips have the highest percentage of true 14 nm elements on their chips. Samsung has the lowest percentage of true 14 nm elements on their chips.

    One chip design expert a couple months ago went so far as to say that Samsung’s 14 nm chips should really be labeled “14-20 nm” chips as the percentage of 14 nm elements was so low that, in his estimation, the chips could not be really called 14 nm at all.

    As often with Samsung it’s more about the splash and market speak than about reality.

    1. This is very true. I worked in the semiconductor industry for a quarter century. Those specs given out are for the minimum CD…critical dimension on a given die and don’t apply to the entire device. It is an important dimension because it dictates the necessary equipment and clean room specification in order to produce that CD.

  3. Samsung has Apple’s behind over a huge barrel and ready to start paddling. It’s a shame Apple can’t find one company that has a better fab plant than Samsung. Samsung can probably charge Apple any amount of money it wants to and Apple can’t do a thing about it except say “Ouch!”. Those S. Koreans are really good at certain things, especially building those freaking massive Pana-max supertankers.

    1. Losing Apple’s business would be far more detrimental to Samsung than it would be for Apple to move to another foundry. Especially since Samsung Semiconductor has become the company’s most profitable division.

      There are many, many other suppliers and fabrication companies around the world. There’s no reason for Apple to stick with Samsung except for one reason – volume.

  4. I live about 20 minutes away from Global Foundries. There are so many people working there from all over the country. It’s really booming and a blessing for upstate NY. I’ve hear scuttlebutt from people about Apple coming in. I wouldn’t doubt it.

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