GlobalWafers, a silicon wafer producer with operations in O’Fallon, has partnered with GLOBALFOUNDRIES to expand its operations and production of semiconductor wafers.
This partnership will allow GlobalWafers to expand production of its 200 mm silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers, which are a vital component to semiconductor production. They are used in GLOBALFOUNDRIES manufacturing facilities in order to create computer chips used in smartphones, automobiles and a growing amount of other technology. The deal will also add 300 mm SOI wafer production.
The agreement commits nearly $210 million to expand GlobalWafers’ facility in Missouri, according to a press release, creating 75 new jobs.
The two companies were working together prior to this announcement to develop a pilot line for the 300 mm SOI wafer production, but their partnership will continue to grow as the new production facility is constructed and comes on line.
In a press release, GLOBALFOUNDRIES CEO Tom Caulfield emphasized the goal of increasing U.S. semiconductor manufacturing to meet a growing global demand.
GlobalWafers has operations across the world, but it’s looking to increase its U.S. production, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic caused supply chain disruption in various industries. Having a diverse base of operations allowed the company to continue creating and distributing products with less interruption than other companies saw, according to GlobalWafers President Mark England.
“I think it will become more and more important to have regional access to semiconductors and chips,” England said. “It’s just how the pendulum swings. We may start seeing a shift back towards having less dependence on one country or one region.”
Amid the shift toward more domestic production, U.S. facilities may have to be larger than plants in other countries to offset higher labor costs with volume.
“We have to find a way to grow to the size that our economies of scale are such that we can overwhelm the benefits of the lower wages that might be seen in other countries,” England said.
The project has received support from the state and the surrounding community, with endorsements from the City of O’Fallon, Ameren Missouri, Spire, and Greater St. Louis, Inc.
“The team in O’Fallon has the drive and the desire that it takes to be the largest and to be an asset to the community,” England said.