Today at an event in Malta, New York, GlobalFoundries (GF) made a series of announcements, one that it is rebranding itself to be the culmination of its transformation journey and the embodiment of what I’ll call “the new GF.” I follow GF closely and have written about the changes and challenges GF has been going through over the past few years. Now I want to go over many of those challenges and changes that have led to it rebranding as a leading semiconductor manufacturer. If you’re looking for analysis on the new Malta investment here.
The new era
GF’s transformation story goes further back than the beginning of the pandemic and the chip shortage. I talked in late 2018 about GF deciding to change its focus from the obsessive leading-edge node towards a more diversified and focused approach. The expectations of semiconductor manufacturing at the time, from those outside the industry, was that the bleeding edge of semiconductor technology was getting to smaller and faster nodes. And it makes sense, I’ll admit, and I have been guilty of this too. The industry was under the impression that innovation, with respect to Moore’s Law, is towards smaller and faster chips.
GF was one of the earlier companies in the industry to understand that innovation in the chip industry is not only about making smaller and faster chips that advance our chip technology. Innovation in the chip industry is also about implementing new and bleeding-edge features inside the SoCs (System on Chips). You can listen to Tom Caulfield, CEO of GlobalFoundries, explain GF’s approach to this really well at the Six Five Summit. As our smartphone devices become smarter and smarter, we realized that we could put a chip in anything and connect it to everything else we put a chip in. We created smartphones, smart homes, smart cars, smart workspaces, etc., and all of these devices needed silicon specialized for a fit purpose. All of these devices needed different semiconductors at that, pertaining to different chip functions and technologies. In other words, the world needed more than the smallest and fastest chip. Although GF realized that the world needed diversified chips, it was already too late due to unforeseen circumstances when the pandemic hit.
The pandemic became a catalyst for the chip shortage, and billions of people stayed home, becoming more immersed in technology and increasing the demand for silicon. The world went from progressively moving towards everything being digitally transformed to schools, businesses, entertainment, relationships all going online in a year and a half. Although GF was expecting this change in the industry, it came much sooner than expected due to this acceleration in need for semiconductor diversification.
Redefining and reinventing
To solve this chip shortage crisis, GF needed to be more strategic in its chip offerings, and that is why I think rebranding itself is a strategic move. It’s more than a logo. A part of GF’s rebranding is how it defines innovation and its methods of semiconductor manufacturing. As we have made smartphones, smart cars, smart homes, we need to make smart chips. GF says this is why it collaborates to develop and manufacture feature-rich solutions that provide the leadership performance vital to growing markets. By redefining how it sees innovation in the semiconductor market, GF owns its forecasts of a diverse chip portfolio.
The incredible thing about GF’s new definition of innovation is that it has lead to the need for better partner relationships. GF says it has reinvented the customer-supplier dynamic in the semiconductor industry to enable a more tightly aligned relationship. It is a relationship about collaboration, so that GF’s offerings in process technology are synergizing with chip design innovations from its customers. While the world is in a chip shortage, the collaboration between fabless and foundry will ensure that GF can manufacture in high volume while meeting critical time-to-market windows. GF says this new model ensures predictability, repeatability, and sustainability for GF and its customers, and I wholeheartedly agree with them that it is more vital than ever. As I’ve said many times before, the software is eating the world, but there needs to be hardware first. Without collaboration between fabless and foundry, there is no hardware.
GF’s global presence means that its rebranding will have a global impact on the semiconductor manufacturing market. Its identity as a company that manufactures semiconductors while also holding customer relationships tightly will encourage collaboration and diversity of ideas. GF looks to honor its heritage while expressing its transformation towards a more diverse and relationship-specific company.
GF says it new brand logo is the combination of a logomark and a wordmark that tells its story. GF’s previous logo was an orange sphere with domino-like lines covering it. It then has its name in orange and grey/black. The new logomark is a reductive design of its two-letter GF name, as I have shortened it in the blog. Each part of the logomark then has a different meaning as the company explains:
- The left-hand side of the “g” in the logomark is fashioned using a half circle and a quarter circle. The circle shapes are representative of a globe highlighting its global footprint as well as a semiconductor wafer.
- The middle shape is shared between the “g” and the “f,” signifying partnership and collaboration, core indicators of the relationships it has with its customers.
- Two squares that define the remainder of the “f” signify the chips, and stacked one on top of the other, make an equal sign that it uses to communicate its brand story
GlobalFoundries new logomark with a half circle, quarter circle, middle shape, and two squares all symbolizing a different part of GF’s new brand. Source GlobalFoundries
GF has also changed its colors to include two accent colors, orange and yellow. GF says it decided to keep the orange to retain its earned brand equity in orange while reflecting its bold personality as well as optimism and warmth. It has added yellow and purple also to communicate warmth and boldness. I love the new color scheme and how it communicates its focus on relationships and diversity in the semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem.
GF has rebranded itself, redefined its terms, and reinvented the way it does relationships in the semiconductor ecosystem. GF does what Intel does not do and does it in a better way for its focused markets. GF is delivering a new era of more and its more diversity, more relationships, and more innovation.
We have seen some pretty significant changes within the last few years in the semiconductor industry. With the chip shortage and the need for diversification, I think GF has done a great job of pivoting its focus and moving in the right direction. GF’s partners will be pleased to hear of the rebranding and new focus on customer relationships, and I think the world will be in a much better place coming out of the chip shortage.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.