​​​​​​​For auto industry, innovation is GlobalFoundries' ace in the hole

The future of the auto industry is being defined by three major trends, abbreviated with the acronym ACE: 

  • Autonomous driving systems that automate more of driving and driving decision-making to high-tech tools, such as global positioning systems (GPS), technology that warns drivers about to veer outside their driving lane or move into a lane that isn’t open, and systems that help manage distances between vehicles.
  • Connectivity, making vehicles just as connected as other technology a driver relies on in their daily lives, such as smartphones, voice recognition or their laptop or desktop computer.
  • Electrification as the vehicular power source of the future, eventually becoming more common than gasoline-powered internal combustion engines, as hybrid and fully electric vehicles represent the majority of vehicles driven. 

GlobalFoundries® (GF®) has won more business from the world’s top vehicle-makers and their suppliers in the last year than at any time in its history, in part because of the innovation it is bringing to market in each area of ACE. 

The cars, SUVs, minivans and trucks we drive are transforming mechanical systems to electric and electronic systems. Initially, as new electronic systems were introduced, automakers would simply insert self-contained units under a car’s hood, and the car had ample space to accommodate them.  

Auto

But the growth in electronics has corresponded to growth in the number of semiconductor chips in a single vehicle. A typical car now uses between 50 and 150 chips, and some of the newest electric vehicles use more than 3,000 semiconductor chips. As vehicles continue to evolve and be equipped with additional features consumers are looking for, the number of chips is only going up. 

At the same time, consumer expectations are changing. Electronics and high-tech features are playing a bigger part in peoples’ buying decisions. Drivers want features that require more systems at their fingertips, as well as behind-the-scenes systems that enable their vehicles to do more for them. Younger drivers are looking for their cars to function as a seamless extension of their smartphone. “User experience,” which we used to think about as the domain of smartphones, tablets or other smart devices, is now part of the automotive purchase consideration set, too. Environmentally sensitive drivers are more focused on hybrid or fully electric vehicles with lower emissions and fuel consumption than they are on more conventional attributes like power and speed.   

As a result, the global automotive industry is simply running out of space under the hood. That’s causing automakers and the entire supply chain that supports them to think, design and build differently. Vehicles’ under-the-hood architecture has had to be re-thought to better manage limited real estate. And the heat that various systems generate means space needs to be carefully managed to take advantage of opportunities to dissipate it. Electronics related to critical safety features need to be kept away from electronics providing driver convenience so that if one system goes down, the vehicle can still operate safely.  

In addition, software powering various technologies in vehicles needs to be able to be easily validated and updated.  

In a way, our cars, SUVs, minivans and trucks are becoming mobile computers, mobile phones and even data centers on four wheels. 

It begins to sound overwhelmingly insurmountable. But it isn’t for the innovators at GlobalFoundries.  

GF charts a new course to identify solutions 

To support the automotive industry with these challenges and thrive in a rapidly changing manufacturing environment, GF has charted a new course that is bringing together stakeholders from across the industry landscape to bring new features to market faster and provide better balance between supply and demand. 

Following its successful July 19, 2021, in-person and virtual panel discussion on “Strategic realignment of the automotive electronics supply chain” with leaders from across the automotive technology industry, GlobalFoundries held its annual Technology Summit on Sept. 15 to increase knowledge of current automotive industry dynamics and find new ways for stakeholders to collaborate, partner and communicate.  

Collaboration has become a popular buzzword in many conversations, but when GF says it is collaborating, it means it. And for GF, it means more than that. The company is reinventing its relationships with customers. Its leaders are working with first-, second- and third-level customers, rolling up their sleeves and partnering with functions from engineering to strategic planning, with stakeholders across the entire supply chain. GF is now providing technologies of choice to supply chains, and better understands its customers’ businesses. Senior executives from auto manufacturers are visiting GF production facilities and looking to GF in a way they never have before. 

GF is building new relationships based on direct working exchanges, transparent planning and forecasting, faster time to market, one-to-one, foundry-to-automaker relationships and consistent quality and reliability standards across technologies. Innovative supply agreements are being forged that provide commitments to uninterrupted semiconductor chip supply in an economically viable way. 

“GF doesn’t look at these challenges from our own perspective, we look at them from the perspective of our customers,” said Kamal Khouri, vice president and general manager of Automotive at GlobalFoundries. “We understand the pain points and understand what it takes to get a semiconductor chip inside a car.” 

And GF is putting money and people behind its commitment, investing $6 billion to expand global manufacturing capacity to support its clients and their end markets, such as automotive. Its best and brightest innovators are working on automotive industry priorities such as connectivity, smart sensors, advanced compute, artificial intelligence and power management.  

Shortening the design cycle 

GF has studied the automotive industry’s design cycle and has found ways to help shorten it. It has begun “pre-qualifying” its manufacturing platforms for automotive-related customers, so semiconductor chip production can begin faster, with fewer iterations between initial design and live production.  

GF is moving toward a turn-key operation for the automotive industry, with customized, certified, high-quality and reliable production platforms purpose-built specifically for producing semiconductors for vehicles. 

“Vehicles and the technology inside them have to be dependable and fully perform under the harshest and most extreme operating conditions,” said Sudipto Bose, senior director of Radar and Automotive Sensors at GlobalFoundries. “Our automotive industry solutions are purpose-built to the toughest standards and have been pushed, tested and qualified to ensure the highest levels of reliability in the industry.” 

At its Sept. 15 Tech Summit, GF announced that an automotive-grade level one of its 22FDX™ M6 production platform is now operational at its manufacturing facility in Dresden, Germany. Built and certified specifically for automotive production, GF’s FDX™ M6 platform will allow automotive parts to be made much faster than trying to re-work an existing platform created for other uses. By having an already established and qualified process design kit (PDK), GF and its customers can focus on developing differentiating features and bringing them to market faster.  

GF has ACE up its sleeve 

GF is addressing emerging trends in the automotive industry with a comprehensive portfolio of feature-rich solutions addressing automaker priorities around ACE - Autonomous, Connectivity and Electrification including:  

Autonomous 

GF has a broad portfolio of solutions for both radio detection and ranging (RADAR), and light detection and ranging (LiDAR). 

LiDar determines distance by sending a laser to an object and calculating how long it takes for the reflected light to return.  

The company’s innovative RADAR solutions are relied on by the leader of first-tier auto manufacturers, as well as the largest providers of integrated dynamic-control modules (IDM) and disruptors. 

Earlier this year, GF and Bosch announced they will partner to develop and manufacture next-generation automotive radar technology. Bosch chose GF as its partner to develop a mmWave automotive radar system-on-chip (SoC) for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) applications, manufactured using GF’s 22FDX™ RF solution. ADAS applications help drivers stay safe by keeping a vehicle in the correct lane, warning of collisions, initiating emergency braking, assisting with parking and more. 

GF offers high-performance radio frequency (RF)/analog for radar, and silicon photonics for LiDar and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). These human-interface resources help drivers react to dangerous conditions while driving through features such as adaptive cruise control, anti-lock brakes, forward collision warning and lane departure warning, among others. 

Silicon photonics is a relatively new solution that transfers data optically within and between microchips at the speed of light, allowing more data to be sent faster, especially in cases where options are limited in terms of speed and capacity. 

Connectivity 

GF is also making vehicles better with advanced digital logic for AI systems, zone controls, information and entertainment. With the massive increase in the number of semiconductors in a single vehicle, controls for systems have been consolidated into four zones, or corners, of the car.  GF’s advanced digital logic solutions improve and accelerate communications between the semiconductor and the system receiving the command. 

Electrification 

GF’s next-generation battery management solutions are solving the most difficult power challenges presented by electric cars: 

  • The company’s technology is helping monitor each of the cells in an electric vehicle’s rechargeable battery, preventing it from an overcharge or undercharge. In addition to providing an optimum battery charge, GF technology is enabling highly accurate systems that keeps electric car batteries well fed. 
     
  • When a vehicle does need to be charged, GF technology is accelerating the charging process, so it is done as fast as possible, allowing drivers to return to the road sooner. 

“Today, GF is providing solutions to leading auto manufacturers and the supply chain partners they depend on, including two out of the top three semiconductor companies that supply the auto industry,” added Khouri. “We believe that’s because GF is focused on making our customers’ lives easier and helping them achieve technology differentiation through new and better autonomous, connectivity and electrification solutions for the auto industry.” 

To learn more about GlobalFoundries’ solutions for the automotive industry, please click here