An Inside Look at GF’s Fab 7 in Singapore 

Yew Kong Q&A Header


With our talented and diverse workforce and at-scale manufacturing footprint spanning the U.S., Europe and Asia, GlobalFoundries (GF) is a trusted technology source to our customers around the world.

While all of our advanced manufacturing facilities, or fabs, are dedicated to delivering the feature-rich chips that are pervasive in everyday life and vital to the global economy, each GF fab is unique and offers its own advantages and opportunities.

To get an insider’s look into our global manufacturing operations, Foundry Files will be profiling each of our manufacturing sites over the course of this year. To launch the series, we sat down with Yew Kong Tan, Vice President and General Manager of GF Singapore, who also oversees Fab 7’s manufacturing operations.

Hello Yew Kong, and thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

My pleasure.

Can you please tell us what GF manufactures at Fab 7?

We build and test a wide array of feature-rich radio frequency (RF), embedded memory and analog and power solutions at Fab 7. They are based on diverse semiconductor technologies ranging from the 130nm to 40nm nodes. What we produce is used in smartphones, automotive systems, Internet of Things (IoT) and other applications which are growing fast as the world becomes increasingly digitized.

These chips enable features we depend on every day. From faster and more reliable connections, secure wireless transactions, and crystal-clear audio for smartphones, to high-resolution touchscreens and better power efficiency on our devices, to sensors and safety features in our cars, and much more.

What makes Fab 7 unique among GF’s worldwide fabs?

We work with more technologies than any other GF fab, which supports GF’s ability to offer a very wide range of truly differentiated solutions. However, it also brings production challenges. In a given year, Fab 7 will have more than 1,000 different chip designs from around 200 customers in production. This has resulted in high production complexity and requires a high level of skill, talent, and dedication on the part of our team to deliver quality wafers on time consistently.

In addition, the overall pace of manufacturing in our industry is increasing. Partly this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has unleashed great demand for electronic systems for remote applications. But it also has to do with today’s shorter chip development cycles. In the past it would take two or three years to develop a new chip, but fast-growing applications like consumer electronics and IoT demand shorter cycles. This results in more products flowing through our fab.

What elements are unique to Singapore with respect to our operations there?

Water is definitely a constraining factor that is unique to Singapore, because the availability of water on this small island is limited. To help deal with it, we have a sophisticated water recycling capability.

With respect to the other resources and items we need for production, our location brings both pluses and minuses. On one hand, given a lack of local suppliers, a lot of our materials must come from overseas, along with high freight charges. On the other hand, given our location we can source many of them in Asia, which is less expensive than flying them in from Europe and the U.S.

Fab 7


Business continuity and supply chain resilience are key customer objectives. How does Fab 7 work together with GF’s other fabs to ensure them?

Our worldwide manufacturing footprint gives us the ability to produce what our customers need on more than one continent. For example, Fab 7 is transferring certain 55nm and 40nm technology nodes to GF’s Fab 1 in Dresden, Germany, so that customers will have two sources of supply for them from within GF, helping to ensure business continuity.

Let’s talk about people. How did you come to be General Manager of Fab 7?

I am a 27-year veteran of GF, but when I started in the semiconductor industry in Singapore in the 1990s it was not with GF but with Chartered Semiconductor, a foundry GF later acquired. I joined GF in 1995 at Fab 2 and progressed from the manufacturing to engineering function in lithography. After a few years I was put in charge of lithography, clean tech and chemical-mechanical planarization (CMP). I also spearheaded our printed circuit board repair center which has provided an important cost advantage for the Singapore site till today. I became General Manager of Fab 2 in 2008, then General Manager of our GIGA+ Fab in Singapore in 2013, and then General Manager of Fab 7 in 2019.

How competitive is the market for talent in Singapore?

There is definitely a worldwide shortage of talent in the semiconductor industry, but what’s particularly relevant to us is that Singapore is a small island. Across all industries and sectors, in Singapore there is a great need for talented employees.

Malaysia is a key source of talent for us, but the COVID situation has made things tricky. Before the pandemic people could commute daily between the two countries, but travel is more restricted now. In addition to Malaysia, we have team members from China, the Philippines, India and elsewhere; it’s a very wide range of people coming into Singapore.

I am involved with the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association, which works with the semiconductor ecosystem here. As a group, with support from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), we have been discussing and developing strategies to attract more talent to Singapore.



Tell us about the Fab 7 team.

COVID has certainly brought major challenges to our workforce, but one of the greatest things about our people is that they are very committed and willing to try new things, and they have risen to the challenge.

For example, as the pandemic started to spread in early 2020, I challenged my team to find ways to prepare for the worst. Fab 7 is highly automated, so we require fewer operators on-site compared to many other manual fabs, and I said, let’s develop the ability to use iPads to control and operate our manufacturing line remotely.

In March of 2020, as we were preparing this capability together with our IT team, lo and behold, Malaysia announced they were going to lock down. When they made that announcement, they didn’t say it would happen in three months or something like that, they said, “we’re going to lock down tomorrow.”

So, one day before the lockdown, our team spent six hours running around Singapore to get 76 iPads. When they got back the iPads were configured immediately and distributed to the people who needed to get back to Malaysia before the border closed down. As a result, we were able to run Fab 7 operations without any delivery impacts to our customers, even as the world shut down. I think that’s amazing. What our people did is truly and wonderfully amazing and unforgettable.

Yew Kong, you’ve been doing this a long time. What inspires you to continue innovating and being a leader in our industry?

The most interesting thing about this industry is that every day when you come into the office you don’t know what’s waiting for you. Every day there’s something new, which gives you the opportunity to learn new things. That’s what every day is about, and it inspires me to do more.

Another very important piece of it is that I work with very talented, committed, dedicated and passionate individuals. I have the privilege to work alongside them every day as we drive toward our goals. We want to achieve best-in-class line yield, die yield, cycle times, and cost. That’s what really motivates me to come to work every day, wanting to do something different and to see our key performance indicators (KPIs) improving year-on-year as a result. It keeps me, and my team, going.


Yew Kong Tan is Vice President and General Manager of GF Singapore, who also oversees Fab 7’s manufacturing operations. At Fab 7, he leads a workforce of about 1,600 and manages operations to achieve high levels of quality, yield, cost effectiveness, delivery and customer satisfaction in support of GF’s business objectives. He holds an M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.