An industry giant in nano chips: Globalfoundries Dresden
Large and small exist side by side at Globalfoundries in Dresden. The American company operates one of the biggest and most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facilities in Europe at its Dresden site. Around 3,700 people work at the 308,000 sq m plant, 52,000 sq m of which make up the cleanroom area. They manufacture one of the basic essentials of our modern world: computer chips featuring tiny electronic components. These transistors find their way into mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices all over the world. The smallest element in these high-tech components measures just 28 nanometres. To put that in perspective, one nanometre is a millionth of a millimetre, so the diameter of a human hair is about 50,000 times bigger than a nanometre. Very few companies worldwide are currently capable of manufacturing high-tech components like these in large quantities.
Highly skilled workforce as a precious resource
Karin Raths has worked at the company for 14 years and watched it grow over that period. With the aid of a model, she explains how the huge factory complex has developed since 1996. Production is fully automated and the finished wafers are transported from one area to another in small wheeled containers. “The logistics behind it are incredible,” she says. Raths was born in the Rhineland but her family are from Saxony, so she has returned to her roots. She is passionate about the company and microelectronics. When asked why the company chose to invest some 10 billion dollars in Saxony over 17 years, she says: “There are so many highly qualified people here, far more than in other regions.”
An exceptional scientific and research environment
A further advantage is the excellent research landscape, consisting of 11 Fraunhofer Institutes, Max Planck Institutes and Leibnitz research centres. Globalfoundries benefits from the comprehensive materials science expertise to be found in Saxony. Raths says: “Our high-tech products require a huge amount of research so we need expert partners, most of whom can be found here in the region.” Manufacturing ever smaller and more powerful chips is the objective and will remain so in the future. “That means we need to keep pushing physical limits,” explains Shailesh Redkar, Senior Director of Customer Engineering. Originally from India, he and his family have lived in Saxony since 2011.
Cosmopolitan Dresden: a superb place to live
Shailesh Redkar enjoys the quality of life, the mix of old and new, the culture, and the outward-looking attitude of Dresden’s inhabitants. The 48-year-old was previously stationed at Globalfoundries in Texas. He appreciates being able to work with so many highly motivated, committed and well-trained colleagues. Rutger Wijburg, general manager of Globalfoundries Dresden, recently summed it up as follows: “Our success in Dresden can be attributed to German engineering expertise, which is highly praised and rightly so. But at the same time, we’re a multinational team comprising people from 54 countries. The rapid pace of innovation in our industry means the technological challenges will only get tougher.” He firmly believes that a global company is best equipped to meet these challenges. The Dresden site is thus central to the company’s future success.