Foundry Files sat down with GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ new Vice President of Automotive Product Line Management, Mark Granger, to learn how GF is positioned to take advantage of the changes taking place in the automotive industry.
I’ve been in charge of high performance SoC product design and product management for about 20 years, most recently at NVIDIA where I led the company’s efforts to provide leading-edge application processors for autonomous vehicles. I jumped at the chance to join GF because of GF’s uniquely advantageous 22FDX and RF/power technologies that give us a great opportunity to become the leading provider of best-in-class automotive solutions. I’m here to help make that happen.
My job is to shape our growth path in automotive by identifying attractive areas of opportunity, ensuring that we are well-positioned in those areas, and working with customers and partners to take advantage of them. By the way, our universe of potential customers and partners isn’t only made up of automotive OEMs like BMW or VW, but also companies up and down the supply chain such as Bosch, Continental, Delphi, Denso, NXP, and increasingly even the likes of Google and Baidu, which are investing in autonomous driving.
Right now the industry is at an inflection point. Although the electronics content of vehicles has been increasing for years, everything really kicked into high gear last October. That’s when Tesla announced that all of its cars, including the new Model 3 which is aimed at the mass market, will have the hardware needed for autonomous vehicle control. That sent competitors scrambling and gave new, urgent momentum to efforts to develop autonomous, connected and highly energy-efficient vehicles.
For example, Ford recently invested $1 billion in a self-driving technology startup called Argo AI, which was founded by engineers from Google and Uber. GM, meanwhile, recently announced it’s hiring 1,100 workers to expand the San Francisco R&D facility of Cruise Automation, a Silicon Valley autonomous-vehicle technology company it bought last year.
Since October the pace of innovation in automotive has quickened to where it reminds me of the tempo of the mobile phone industry a few years ago, as it ramped up. The sense of possibility, the excitement and also the fear of being left behind are palpable in the automotive sector, and GF is pulling out all the stops to help our customers achieve their goals.
Our 22FDX process meets automakers’ stringent requirements for low-power operation, low cost and high reliability while offering advanced processing, memory and RF capabilities. No one else can do all of this in one device. Our initial focus is two-fold: ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems) applications, including mmWave radar, and microcontrollers.
The ADAS space has particularly challenging requirements for energy efficiency and cost, and 22FDX enables unique and compelling solutions. It has already drawn great interest for SoCs for use in forward-view cameras for automated emergency braking systems and automated highway driving. One example is Dream Chip Technologies’ 22FDX-based SoC for automotive computer vision applications. It supports high-end computer-vision performance at very low power consumption, which enables ADAS functions such as road-sign recognition, lane-departure warning, driver-distraction warning, blind spot detection, surround vision, parking assist, pedestrian detection, cruise control and emergency braking.
The other big market for 22FDX technology is microcontrollers, where we bring best-in-class solutions. High-end cars may contain up to ~100 microcontrollers to manage the engine, transmission, powertrain, safety systems, etc., and that number is going to increase but also drive demand for integration of multiple functions on a single MCU – ideal for 22FDX.
If you think about it in a larger context, all of these developments in autonomous automotive capabilities will change the way we live. For example, autonomous vehicles will enable older people who no longer drive to get out and about, helping them to enjoy a higher quality of life. The number of deaths on the road will decline dramatically. And even cityscapes will change for the better, because more efficient automated routing may do away with the need to devote so much real estate and infrastructure to traffic-related needs.
It’s a very exciting time to be involved in this industry, both from business and human perspectives.
Mark Granger was named GF’s Vice President of Automotive Product Line Management in March, 2017. A self-confessed “car guy,” he has a 1967 Ford Mustang convertible which he and his son restored to like-new condition.