IBM is pulling out of chip manufacturing.
Following the semiconductor shock of IBM pulling out of chip manufacturing, David Manners considers who could buy and run the IBM fabs, whose processes include SOI and SiGe, and which supply manufacturing process technology to half the world’s major companies: Samsung, GloFo, UMC, ST, Renesas, NEC, Freescale, Toshiba and Infineon.
The biggest shockwave the semiconductor industry has had for years is the IBM announcement that it is pulling out of chip manufacturing. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has decided that IBM’s future is in software and services and chip manufacturing clearly doesn’t fall in either of these categories. Moreover IBM’s chip manufacturing business lost $130 million last year and is slated to lose another $130 million this year while the capital costs to stay in the game are $5 billion a factory and rising.
That’s one way of looking at it. The other way of looking at it is that IBM has been a stalwart of the world semiconductor industry, inventing the DRAM, mastering SiGe, SOI and much more besides and supplies manufacturing process technology to half the world’s major companies: Samsung, GloFo, UMC, ST, Renesas, NEC, Freescale, Toshiba and Infineon.
It is shocking to think IBM’s legendary R&D operation may be curtailed but, without the justification of a business outlet for its innovations, it may be. One rather assumes that the obvious candidates for buying IBM’s fabs have already been tapped and that the announcement that Goldman Sachs has been appointed to look for a buyer for the fabs is to find an unobvious candidate. The obvious candidates are Intel, TSMC, GloFo and Samsung.
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