18 October 2022
GlobalFoundries awarded $30m in US funding for development and production of GaN-on-Si
GlobalFoundries (GF) of Malta, NY, USA (which has operations in Singapore, Germany and the USA) has been awarded $30m in federal funding to advance the development and production of gallium nitride (GaN) on silicon at GF’s fabrication plant in Essex Junction, near Burlington, Vermont.
GF says that, with its unique ability to handle significant heat and power levels, GaN is positioned to enable what is describes as game-changing performance and efficiency in applications including 5G and 6G smartphones, RF wireless infrastructure, electric vehicles (EVs), power grids, solar energy and other technologies.
The announcement was made at an event at GF’s fab attended by US Senator Patrick Leahy, GF president & CEO Dr Thomas Caulfield, GF Vermont Fab VP & general manager Ken McAvey, Greater Burlington Industrial Corp president Frank Cioffi, GF Fab team members, and other guests. Secured by Leahy as an appropriation in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022, the $30m federal funding will enable GF to purchase tools and extend development and implementation of 200mm GaN wafer manufacturing. The incorporation of scaled GaN manufacturing into the fab’s capabilities extends the facility’s RF semiconductor technology, and positions GF for making chips for high-power applications including electric vehicles, industrial motors, and energy applications.
“Senator Leahy’s leadership and dedication have been instrumental to the growth and success of semiconductor manufacturing in Vermont,” commented Caulfield. “I thank Senator Leahy for his steadfast support of GF throughout his many years in office… He has been a champion of putting this facility on the global forefront of semiconductor manufacturing. With this new federal funding, and the potential for further support in the 2023 federal budget, GF is well-positioned to become a global leader in GaN chip manufacturing,” he reckons.
“This funding is an investment in US leadership in improved technology for chips that connect everything around us and power our handheld devices,” said Leahy.
This Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) was entered into by the Defense Microelectronics Activity via the Trusted Access Program Office (TAPO) of the US Department of Defense. TAPO’s primary mission is to procure advanced semiconductors for the Department’s most critical and sensitive weapons systems platforms. TAPO has been supporting dual-use (both civilian and military applications) GaN-on-silicon development efforts since 2019 as GaN provides a stable semiconductor suitable in high-power, high-frequency devices that the DoD needs to maintain technology advantage for the USA. This current development phase plans to leverage previous TAPO successes and continue maturing this dual-use technology.
“GlobalFoundries has been a critical partner to the Trusted Access Program Office, enabling semiconductor assurance (Trust) to advanced semiconductor technologies for the Department’s most advanced weapon systems platforms,” says DMEA director Dr Nicholas Martin. “This engagement is just one step the DoD is taking to ensure the US has continued access to advanced microelectronics technologies such as gallium nitride,” he adds.
This $30m agreement is the latest federal investment to support GaN at GF’s Vermont Fab. In fiscal years 2020 and 2021, Leahy secured a total of $10m for R&D related to advancing GaN technology at the facility, paving the way for the new award.
GF’s facility in Essex Junction was among the first major semiconductor manufacturing sites in the USA. Nearly 2000 GF employees work at the site, with a manufacturing capacity of more than 600,000 wafers per year. Built on GF’s differentiated technologies, the GF-made chips are used in smartphones, automobiles and communications infrastructure applications worldwide. The fab is a Trusted Foundry and manufactures secure chips in partnership with the US Department of Defense, for use in some of the nation’s most sensitive aerospace & defense systems.