Foundry Files

From Slab to Fab: The Road to 14nm

  • By: Communications
  • December 9, 2015
  • Category: Business

A little over five years ago, GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab 8 facility was just a plot of land carved from a dense forest, adjacent to the rusting remnants of the space race. A collection of rocket stations and bunkers known as The Malta Test Station where, over fifty years ago, the world’s greatest scientists worked to create technologies that fundamentally shaped modern history.

Today, that plot of land in Luther Forest has gone from a couple of symbolic shovels-full of dirt to a fabrication plant producing leading-edge technology that will fundamentally define how humanity advances.

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Recently, AMD confirmed that GF 14nm FinFET process technology, manufactured at Fab 8, will be core to AMD’s high-performance, power-efficient computer and graphics technologies across a broad set of markets, from personal computers, to data centers to immersive computing devices. Beyond AMD, GF 14nm technology will play a key role in mobile technology, at the heart of the next generation smartphones.

From an outside observer, ramping the technology itself may look like a simple story of transferring processes from Korea to Malta, New York through a Copy Smart approach that involves synchronizing materials, process recipes, and tools. But, in reality, it is no small feat to deliver a technology on schedule and to specification. To meet its planned milestones and reach full-scale production, Fab 8 in Malta was installing as many as 20 tools per week during peak activity, while bringing across a highly-stringent process that included working with a complex mix of copy-exact and non-copy-exact tools and, at the same time, improving yields at an industry-standard rate.

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But four football fields with industry-leading tool sets is nothing without a world-class team to run it all. It was more than preparing a fab and ramping 14nm, it was about creating the basis for a true learning organization to that would continue to drive improvement and shape the growth of the facility for years to come. To deliver on this promise, Fab 8 conducted over 50,000 hours of training, covering hard skills like structured problem solving (SPS), statistical process control (SPC) and fault detection and classification (FDC), as well as soft skills like emotional intelligence, communications and team leadership.

In the end, all the hard work is paying off. GF’s 14nm FinFET technology is at the very forefront of power and energy efficiency, built with circuitry features measuring 7,000 times narrower than a human hair – technology that will re-shape our lives, change how we work, interact and play.

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