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Foundry, pure-play foundry

A company that specializes in manufacturing semiconductor devices.


A foundry is a company that specializes in manufacturing semiconductor devices, including integrated circuits (ICs), in its fabs, or fabrication plants. The foundry does not design ICs — and a pure-play foundry does not have its own IC products. Instead, a foundry manufactures another semiconductor company’s ICs. The foundry supplies design rules (PDKs) that apply to manufacturing on the foundry’s process and works closely with fabless semiconductor company on a process flow that will make the IC designs suitable for the manufacturing process. The foundry usually offers more than one manufacturing process node at different fabs it owns.

A pure-play foundry is another name for a foundry that only manufactures other companies’ semiconductor devices. It does not design or sell those devices. TSMC, UMC, GlobalFoundries, and SMIC are large pure-play foundries.

Until the advent of fabless semiconductor design model, the foundry/fabrication plant was a part of the semiconductor company and was used to process only the semiconductor company’s products. Some semiconductor design companies — called IDMs — still follow that business model. Intel and Texas Instruments are IDMs. But the lines are blurring yet again, with Intel starting to offer to make ICs for fabless companies with its Intel Foundry Services and also plans to manufacture some Intel chips in TSMC fabs. Samsung does make its own ICs for its own products, which makes it technically an IDM, but its foundry is 2nd largest IC manufacturer for fabless semiconductors also.

The biggest foundries in the world are


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