By Kelvin Low
It’s always great to see a customer celebrate their product success, especially when it’s developed based on a GLOBALFOUNDRIES technology. Recently, one of our early lead partners, Adapteva, announced sampling of their 28nm 64-core Epiphany-4 microprocessor chip. This chip is designed on our 28nm-SLP technology which offers the ideal balance of low power, GHz class performance and optimum cost point. I will not detail the technical results of the chip but will share a quote by Andreas Olofsson, CEO of Adapteva, in the recent company’s press release:
“The Epiphany efficiency breakthrough will enable significant savings in total cost of ownership for high performance computing and will enable server level performance in mobile devices such as smart-phones and tablets. . . . effectively offering over 50 GHz of achievable programmable performance while consuming less than 2 Watts”
The ability to achieve this high performance point and still maintain mobile class leakage does not come by ‘magic’. I attribute the joint success to two key factors:
Early collaboration with our customers
GF is transforming the foundry engagement model. While some in the industry may claim that “the foundry-fabless model is dead,” we are seeing the exact opposite! We are leading the transformation to a new model of customer-foundry relations. Early collaboration with customers in many aspects is necessary for a long-term, mutually successful relationship. To use Adapteva as an example, GF engineers started engaging Adapteva’s design teams back in 2010, which is two years prior to product launch. During the initial engagement phase, both teams rigorously discussed requirements and exchanged ideas in order to meet the stringent product leakage requirements while scaling the high performance needs from the previous generation. Time-to-market was obviously a priority, and it was essential for Adapteva to work on a 28nm technology that allows fast porting of their key IP blocks (from the prior node).
Our 28nm-SLP technology was the ideal fit for Adapteva, because it offers a combination of GHz class performance and low leakage to cover the mobile segment, as well as the critical time-to-market advantage that they need. GF also works with our design ecosystem partners to enable design IPs on our 28nm platforms. These range from building blocks like standard cells, memory compilers to more complex IP blocks like USB2/3, DDR, PCI-Express and other high speed interfaces. Early access to the technology as well as design building blocks helped our customer accelerate their design cycle time.
The relationship with Adapteva is a great example of our initiative to transform the foundry business model, which we are calling the Collaborative Device Manufacturing (CDM). In my next blog post, I will talk a bit more about the second key factor that helped enable Adapteva’s success: how we built a superior low power, GHz class mobile solution in our 28nm-SLP technology.
Kelvin Low is Product Marketing Deputy Director for GF, responsible to define GF leading edge technology roadmaps and product solutions. He is also an active member of the Joint Development Alliance where he is the marketing lead providing key market inputs in shaping the next technology nodes.