Monday, February 19, 2024

GlobalFoundries lands $1.5B in CHIPS Act funding for new fabs

GlobalFoundries is set to receive $1.5 billion in planned direct funding as part of the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act.

The money will be used to expanding existing fabrication facilities as well as to build new capacity, including:

  • Expanding GF’s existing fab in Malta, New York, by adding critical technologies already in production in GF’s Singapore and Germany facilities. These added capabilities are geared towards enabling the U.S. auto industry. As vehicles transition from mechanical to electronic systems, the number of semiconductor chips in each car or truck continues to soar. This expansion is key to ensuring supply chain resilience for the growing demand and to delivering for GF’s automotive customers including General Motors. This will continue to diversify GF’s flagship Malta fab into new technologies and end markets.
  • Construction of a new state-of-art fab on the Malta campus to meet expected customer demand for U.S.-made essential chips across a broad range of markets and applications including automotive, aerospace, defense and AI. The new fab, which has already been granted some necessary permitting, will leverage the site’s existing infrastructure and ecosystem, enabling a fast and efficient path from construction to production. GF’s said the new fab will be uniquely positioned to capture the feature-rich mature, essential chip segment which is expected to continue to represent more than 60% of the semiconductor market. Construction of this new fab combined with expansion of GF’s existing site is expected to triple the existing capacity of the Malta campus over the next 10+ years. 

These two projects are expected to increase wafer production to 1 million per year once all phases are complete.

  • Modernization of GF’s longest continuously operated fab and the nation’s first and largest Trusted 200mm facility in Essex Junction, Vermont. The project will upgrade existing facilities, expand capacity as well as create the first U.S. facility capable of high-volume manufacturing of next-generation gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors for use in electric vehicles, power grids, data centers, 5G and 6G smartphones and other critical technologies.

GF plans to invest more than $12 billion over the next 10 plus years across its two U.S. sites through public-private partnerships with support from the federal and state governments as well as from its ecosystem partners, including key strategic customers.

New York Governor Hochul unveiled a $575 million funding proposal for the New York State Green CHIPS initiative, aimed at backing two projects in Malta, New York. Additionally, a planned allocation of $15 million for workforce development activities at GlobalFoundries and $30 million for infrastructure enhancements and energy incentives, facilitated by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), were also announced.

“GF is proud to announce this proposed funding from the Department of Commerce and New York State and appreciates the collaboration of the CHIPS Office and the Empire State Development Corporation throughout this process. These proposed investments, along with the investment tax credit (ITC) for semiconductor manufacturing, are central to the next chapter of the GlobalFoundries story and our industry. They will also play an important role in making the U.S. semiconductor ecosystem more globally competitive and resilient and cements the New York Capital Region as a global semiconductor hub,” said Dr. Thomas Caulfield, president and CEO of GF. “With new onshore capacity and technology on the horizon, as an industry we now need to turn our attention to increasing the demand for U.S.-made chips, and to growing our talented U.S. semiconductor workforce.”

“Semiconductors are in everything from our cellphones, to refrigerators, to cars, and our most advanced weapons systems, and access to them carries important economic and national security implications. It was the shortages of semiconductors during the COVID-19 pandemic that raised prices for consumers and led to the shutdown of automobile manufacturing sites across the country,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Thanks to the CHIPS and Science Act, we’re working to onshore these critical technologies in order to bolster the supply of domestic chips that are essential to manufacturing cars, electronics, and national defense systems in New York, Vermont, and states across the country.”

Customers expressing support for the GF announcements included: AMD, General Motors, Lockheed Martin, and Qualcomm.

  • GlobalFoundries was established in 2009 through the merger of AMD's manufacturing arm and the Advanced Technology Investment Company. In 2010, GlobalFoundries acquired Chartered Semiconductor in 2010, significantly boosting its manufacturing capabilities and global footprint. 
  • The Malta, New York, facility, Fab 8, was announced in 2009, shortly after GlobalFoundries was created from the divestiture of AMD's manufacturing arm. The site was chosen for its strategic location and the incentives offered by the state of New York. 
  • In 2015, GlobalFoundries acquired IBM's microelectronics division, which included semiconductor manufacturing facilities, technology, and intellectual property. This acquisition was part of a strategic move by GlobalFoundries to expand its technology portfolio and manufacturing capabilities. As part of the deal, IBM paid GlobalFoundries $1.5 billion to take over its semiconductor operations, which included several manufacturing plants and a significant number of IBM employees transitioning to GlobalFoundries. 

Plans to create a competing national fixed NetCo in the UK

Virgin Media O2, together with its shareholders Liberty Global and Telef├│nica, unveiled plans to create a distinct national fixed network company (NetCo) that will underpin full fibre take up and roll out across the UK. The goal is to establish the biggest dedicated fixed network challenger in the country, offering clear wholesale choice at scale for other providers as a major alternative to BT’s Openreach. 

Key Highlights:

  • NetCo, a fully consolidated subsidiary of Virgin Media O2, will have a neutral impact on the company's leverage and credit structure.
  • It will encompass Virgin Media O2's cable and fibre network assets, currently covering 16.2 million premises across the UK, all of which will be upgraded to full fibre in the near future.
  • Aligned with Virgin Media O2's existing network strategy, NetCo will prioritize completing the ongoing fibre upgrade program, which involves overlaying the existing cable network with full fibre.
  • The structure of NetCo allows for flexibility in terms of financing, potential altnet consolidation, and pursuing wholesale opportunities as a scaled network alternative.
  • Virgin Media O2's consumer and B2B units, along with its mobile network, will continue to serve millions of customers with evolving connectivity services.
  • Through a wholesale agreement, NetCo will connect Virgin Media O2's entire fixed customer base, generating revenue and cash flow from day one of operation.
  • Virgin Media O2's mobile assets will remain separate from NetCo, while nexfibre, an independent fibre joint venture, will continue expanding fibre networks into greenfield areas.
  • Upon completion of all planned fibre builds, NetCo and nexfibre networks combined will reach up to 23 million homes, facilitating substantial fibre network competition covering around 75% of the UK.
  • The development of NetCo is in progress, with teams from Virgin Media O2 and its shareholders actively involved. Further details and operational timelines will be disclosed in due course, subject to regulatory approvals.

Lutz Sch├╝ler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, said: “This is a logical evolution of our fibre strategy that creates a clear, focused and scaled network entity within the Virgin Media O2 family which underpins our shift to a fully fibre network and reinforces our position as the leading challenger to Openreach in the market. Working closely with our shareholders, this network business will provide a platform for potential altnet consolidation and wholesale opportunities in future, offering widescale network choice for other providers, as well as giving financing optionality. While nothing changes today work is well underway and you’ll hear more from us later in the year.”

Windstream Wholesale builds 864-count dark fiber route

Windstream Wholesale cited progress in the construction of its dark fiber "Beach Route," which stretches 651 route miles across a unique path down the East Coast of the United States and consists of 864-count buried fiber. 

The northern section, covering 459 miles from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Savannah, Georgia, is now complete, equipped, and ready for immediate service. This unlocks expansive dark fiber connectivity options across major East Coast cities including from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and from Myrtle Beach to Savannah, Georgia. The route connects to the new DC BLOX cable landing station in Myrtle Beach, providing access to the Firmina, Nuveum, and Anjana sub-sea cables.

The Beach Route also provides dark fiber access to over 12 data centers and 14 government and military locations. Extensive broadband expansion opportunities include partnerships with municipalities, utilities, and cooperatives. Partnering with adjacent providers extends connectivity to Atlanta, Miami, and Charlotte, enhancing dark fiber network expansion opportunities. \

The company also noted progress on the southern portion and final segment of the Beach Route, adding 192 route miles of new conduit extending from Savannah into the Jacksonville Beach Network Access Point. Scheduled for service by the second quarter of 2024, this segment will provide access to two key sub-sea cables, AMX-1 and PCCS.

Joe Scattareggia, Windstream Wholesale president, states: “We’re not just expanding infrastructure; we’re redefining connectivity standards and empowering our customers on a monumental scale.”

Video: Zero Gap AI -, SuperMicro, NVIDIA

 What's next for the network edge? High-performance, GPU-driven AI services could shake things up. Cole Crawford, CEO, and Matt Trifiro, CMO from Vapor, explain:

  • The introduction of Zero Gap AI, a service designed to bridge the complexities of deploying both the wireless stack and the AI stack. This service is offered in combination with Super Micro, leveraging the Grace Hopper super chip and the Nvidia mgx platform as an end-to-end solution.
  • The unique positioning of Vapor in the 'middle mile', providing a network that is so fast and close it feels like it's on your premises. This service is different from the edges of hyperscale clouds, offering a private network that reduces reliance on multiple network hops and internet routing.
  • The foundational network and data centers deployed around the United States, offering AI access points. Vapor partners with SuperMicro and Nvidia to make GPUs available as a product, providing a solution for enterprises struggling to get their hands on GPUs.

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Arm seeks common frameworks to accelerate chiplet market

Arm is proposing a common framework to enable the next generation of chiplets. The company recently provided updates on two new initiatives that will help to deliver this framework:

Arm Chiplet System Architecture (CSA): Arm and a group of more than 20 partners are developing an Arm Chiplet System Architecture (CSA), which will enable greater reuse of components (physical design IP, soft IP etc) between multiple suppliers. The group is seeking to standardize around system design choices for different chiplet types, such as how to partition an Arm-based system across multiple chiplets, or their high-level properties (e.g. requirements for system memory or a Root of Trust).

Updating AMBA to standardize protocols for chiplets: For more than 27 years, AMBA has been a foundational open industry standard and AMBA specifications like AXI and CHI have been used in billions of devices.    

AMBA CHI is high speed, credited, and packetized, which makes it ideal for chiplets. The previously announced AMBA CHI C2C specification leverages the existing on-chip CHI protocol and defines how it is packetized, enabling it to be transported chip(let)-to-chip(let). The open specification is now formally released, after collaboration with a diverse set of partners across the industry.

There are several existing AXI-based designs and Arm is committed to deliver an open AXI C2C specification that can be adopted by silicon vendors currently enjoying the benefits of AXI in their single chip designs.

The company says its investments in AMBA and CSA will enable partners to decompose an Arm-based system across multiple chiplets, in the same way a monolithic chip is composed of IP blocks. 

Arm also intends to collaborate in the following areas:

  • Physical layer: Industry standards. such as UCIe, are needed to define the physical layer for transporting data between chiplets within a package (for AMBA, PCIe and other protocols) and other non-differentiating aspects of system aggregation from chiplets.
  • Protocols: Industry standard protocols, such as PCIe and CXL, alongside on-SoC interconnect protocols like AMBA, will enable the market to aggregate well-defined peripherals from across a motherboard into a package.
  • High-level properties and partitioning: For Arm-based systems using AMBA protocols, there is an infinite flexibility to disaggregate the SoC into chiplets. CSA will help the Arm-ecosystem to reach consensus around the most valuable partitioning schemes to reduce fragmentation.

Here is a blog posting by Richard Grisenthwaite, EVP, Chief Architect & Fellow, 


Verizon commits to Open APIs

Verizon has committed to opening network Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)to developers globally through a variety of API aggregators, hyperscalers and through Verizon’s own API portal. The carrier is collaborating directly with multiple industry standards bodies to ensure adherence to global standards for its APIs, including CAMARA, GSMA OpenGateway, 5GFF, and TM Forum, among others.

The Verizon API portfolio represents a broad array of functional areas, including network authenticated security, SIM and device management, network traffic prediction, quality management, edge site selection and routing,etc 

Verizon says these APIs unlock the power of its 5G network to add value and functionality across multiple industry verticals. For instance, using a combination of these APIs, developers can bolster multifactor-based fraud prevention by allowing an agent to authenticate a mobile number, SIM authorization, and other network-determined characteristics within a mobile application. This verifies user identity and device ownership, providing an application with a higher confidence score for critical apps. These capabilities can add valuable customer authentication, onboarding and fraud prevention services for multiple industries, including mobile banking and digital retailing.

“The breadth and richness of the services and data insights that can be leveraged from Verizon’s award winning 5G network is immeasurable,” said Srini Kalapala, Senior Vice President of Technology and Product Development at Verizon. “Verizon has been on the cutting-edge of developing a number of network APIs to help developers access and mobilize network data and services in a way that improves customer security, eases pain points in customers’ interactions or allows for the creation of new experiences. We are now working with global partners to make those available on a wider scale.”

Tarana Wireless gains FCC certification for unlicensed 6 GHz band

Tarana Wireless announced Federal Communication Commission’s certification for Gigabit 1 fixed wireless access (ngFWA) broadband platform to operate in the new unlicensed 6 GHz spectrum. Tarana is the first manufacturer to receive an Equipment Authorization Grant from the FCC in 6 GHz.

Tarana announced G1’s 6 GHz capability in October of 2023 and began shipping the new equipment for customer pilots. This grant now allows those internet service providers to operate commercially in the 6 GHz UNII-5 and UNII-7 bands with 4W EIRP power, managed by the automated frequency coordination (AFC) system.

More than 200 ISPs in 21 countries have adopted Tarana ngFWA technology, in CBRS and unlicensed 5 GHz, to better reach underserved communities with high-speed broadband. Known for its unprecedented ability to cancel radio interference, the G1 platform is an essential tool for operators planning to leverage unlicensed 6 GHz.

The company notes that its platform bring an important capability to operation in 6 GHz spectrum: flexible sub-carrier channel configuration. In contrast to systems based on Wi–Fi standards that require operation in 160 MHz wide channels, G1 can operate in multiple independent sub-channels, allowing the system to achieve full gigabit performance even when the presence of incumbent radio links and competing ISPs in the 6 GHz band limit the availability of clean, contiguous 160 MHz channels.

“We’re excited to see 6 GHz outdoor shared spectrum access becoming a reality,” said Ilkka Niva, Tarana’s Director of Regulatory Compliance. “We also recognize and appreciate the work that the FCC, WinnForum, and the Wi-Fi Alliance have done to pioneer this effort and enable prompt regulatory approvals. This new spectrum will help us — and our customers — in our joint mission to increase availability of reliable, affordable internet and close the digital divide.”

Mavenir demos Narrowband IoT on Ligado SkyTerra Satellite

Mavenir completed a 3GPP Rel.17 Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) data connection over the Ligado SkyTerra satellite network.

The Mavenir NTN service platform was integrated with the Ligado Ground-Based Beam Former (GBBF) over a digital interface, providing an adaptable, high-directivity connection to specific user equipment (UE) on the ground via the satellite link. The team successfully demonstrated a UE connected to the satellite beam on a narrow 200kHz carrier within 3GPP-standardized band n255, i.e., L-band spectrum already designated and fully licensed for MSS operations.

The companies say the adoption of 3GPP-compliant NTN technology enables satellite networks to support devices using mainstream, low-cost chipsets that can also operate on terrestrial IoT networks. This demonstration paves the way towards the delivery of seamless integration of satellite technology with the mobile networks of the future, extending coverage to remote regions and challenging geographies while supporting a variety of innovative IoT applications, including vehicle diagnostics, environmental monitoring, first responder connectivity, and smart metering.