Globalfoundries’ $6 billion New York chip plant waits for Apple

Apple could turn upstate New York into a global chipmaking hot spot if its rumored discussions with Globalfoundries bear fruit.

Build it and Apple will come?

Globalfoundries has a spanking-new $6 billion semiconductor plant/campus in Saratoga County, N.Y., ready to make world-class chips for smartphones and tablets.

But no big customers. At least, nothing like Apple.

Globalfoundries' $6 billion New York chip plant waits for Apple

Then speculation surfaced Friday about Apple eyeing Globalfoundries as a possible maker of its chips, or even as a partner in a joint venture.

That could turn upstate New York’s silicon corridor into something more akin to Silicon Valley. You know, like back in the day, when chip companies actually had chip fabs in California.

Fast forward 30 years to Upstate New York and Globalfoundries.

GF, the erstwhile chipmaking arm of Advanced Micro Devices, has “a lot of idle capacity and a lot of new [production] tools,” a source familiar with the chipmaker told, Friday.

It gets better. GF is now ready and willing to make just the kind of advanced ARM chips that Apple uses.

And what about Apple’s chipmaking arrangement with Samsung and the rumored switch to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company? The Apple-Samsung relationship is slated to end sometime in 2014.

Apple could then, theoretically, switch with relative ease to GF because “Globalfoundries and Samsung have the same technology foundation based on an IBM joint development agreement,” according to the source.

The rumors about TSMC are still just rumors, as we haven’t seen any evidence of an Apple A series chip made by TSMC. Moreover, a post at chip site SemiAccurate — which floated the idea on Friday about an Apple-GF “joint venture” — didn’t seem to put much stock in a TSMC deal.

For what it’s worth, SemiAccurate believes that Apple may purchase a portion of GF’s Fab 8 in New York, or all of it. Essentially making Apple a chipmaker in every sense of the word.

Whatever happens, it’s probably very likely that Apple is seriously thinking about moving some production to GF. It’s just too tempting an opportunity for Apple to pass up.