A love affair with silicon

A love affair with silicon
Ajit Manocha, chief executive officer (CEO) of GlobalFoundries.

Ajit Manocha likes to say that he eats, drinks and dreams silicon. While for most people that would seem a curious fascination, for Mr Manocha, who is CEO of GlobalFoundries, (GF), the world's second largest independent semiconductor foundry, that's par for the course.

A chemist by training, he's been working with silicon ever since he left university and joined Bell Labs as a research scientist.

Launched in March 2009, GF is the world's first full-service semiconductor foundry with a global footprint. It has operations in Singapore, Germany and the US.

Singapore is a major operations centre for the company. Out of its eight fabrication (fab) plants, as many as six are located in Singapore. The remaining two are in Dresden, Germany and Malta in New York state. These sites are supported by a global network of R&D (research and development), design enablement, and customer support centres in Singapore, China, Taiwan, Japan, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Interestingly, Mr Manocha had no plans to become CEO of what is arguably one of the fastest growing foundries in the world. After quite an eventful career in which he held several important posts in the semiconductor industry around the world, he had decided, in 2010, to slow down and spend more time with his family in California.

"Being around 55, I wanted to rediscover my family. However, my end goal in life was never to retire but to work on multiple company boards as an adviser."

One of the board roles that came to Mr Manocha around that time was from ATIC (Advanced Technology Investment Company). Based in Abu Dhabi, ATIC is an investment company in the high-technology sector, owned by Mubadala Development Company of Abu Dhabi.

ATIC and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) created GF in 2009 and it was then the world's third largest independent foundry. Later that year, ATIC acquired Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing which was then the world's second largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry. In January 2010, GF officially integrated operations with Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, and since that time has functioned as one company under the GF brand.

"I was part of the ATIC family since 2009 and I was also on a few other boards," recalls Mr Manocha.

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