The term Foundry ( also English silicon foundry ) refers to a company active in the field of microelectronics company that ( semiconductor fabrication plans english, in short: "fab" ) in its semiconductor factories producing products for other semiconductor companies, cf manufacturing operation. Originally, the term comes from English and means foundry.
The development of microelectronic integrated circuits ( cf. chip design ) is often performed in small, specialized companies. It includes, among others, the functional description and synthesis of the circuit, for which principally comparatively little capital-intensive computing and specialized computer programs are needed.
The fabrication of integrated circuits on semiconductor wafers ( so-called wafers ) takes place in its factories, its construction and commissioning due to the high technical requirements is enormously capital intensive (several billion euros for the 22 - nm and 32- nm technology node, and growing). The operation is no less complex and profitable only in good utilization of production facilities, including due to the high cost pressures and price decline in the industry. This effort can only afford a few large enterprises for the production of its own products.
The business model of a Foundry allows smaller companies, which can afford the cost of its own factory not to develop highly specialized and competitive circuits (see application specific integrated circuit ) and to sell. The production of the circuits is carried out usually in the standard technologies, which are relatively inexpensive and widely used. The necessary technology is usually developed by the Foundry or its technology partners. Characteristics of the processed components and layout guidelines are the company for the design made available so that it can be synthesized there and tested by simulation already.
In addition to the "pure -play foundries " that specialize exclusively in the production for other companies, there are also companies that develop only from contract manufacturing their own circuits and produce and thus even as a semiconductor manufacturer (English integrated device manufacturer, IDM) on market occur.
The largest foundries are the Taiwanese company TSMC and the U.S. company Global Foundries. The European foundries include primarily the Austrian ams AG, the French and the German Altis Semiconductor Foundries X -FAB and the LFoundry.