Globalfoundries engages startup for R&D

July 13, 2011 // By Dylan McGrath
Globalfoundries Inc., will collaborate with startup Intermolecular Inc., on semiconductor process technology R&D under the terms of a multi-year collaborative development program and IP licensing agreement just announced.

Under the terms of the agreement, Globalfoundries will leverage Intermolecular’s high productivity combinatorial (HPC) technology to accelerate the creation of process modules that will be integrated into Globalfoundries manufacturing lines worldwide, Intermolecular (San Jose, CA).

The agreement marks the first publicly disclosed engagement of startup Intermolecular by a company that builds logic devices. Intermolecular has similar agreements with DRAM maker Elpida Memory Inc., as well as two undisclosed non-volatile memory companies as well as several other semiconductor and related technology firms, according to David Lazovsky, Intermolecular president and CEO.

Lazovsky noted that not only does Globalfoundries have a sizeable and distinguished R&D team of its own, but the company is also a member of IBM's Common Platform Alliance and other consortiums that share R&D. But, Lazovsky said, contracting with Intermolecular offers Globalfoundries several advantages, most notably speed of development time.

Intermolecular claims its HPC technology dramatically increases the quantity and quality of material and physical characterization, unit-process development and device integration data. The HPC approach uses advanced combinatorial processing systems that allow dozens or even hundreds of experiments to be conducted in parallel, while Informatics software and analytical methods scan results for the most promising materials and unit process candidates, according to the company.

As in other Intermolecular engagements, the startup will be compensated by Globalfoundries both with development fees and with royalties associated with any resulting technologies developed, Lazovsky. He likened the company's model to that of ARM Holdings plc on the design IP side. Lazovsky declined to disclose the specific terms of the Globalfoundries deal.

Much of the collaborative development work will be performed at Intermolecular’s HPC R&D Center in San Jose, CA, in collaboration with Globalfoundries operations in Germany, New York, California and Singapore, Intermolecular said. Researchers and engineers from both companies will work side by side, utilizing Intermolecular’s full suite of Tempus wet-workflow development systems and Tempus AP-30 platforms, which can perform ALD, CVD and PVD