The Big Advantage
While AMD's fabs had always been among the most advanced, they were, like much of the enthusiast press, limited to seeing their fabs in the context of Intel. It did not matter that AMD had outstanding fabs capable of producing large volumes of chips. The fabs were limited to producing only those chips needed by AMD, and because AMD's competitor had always been Intel the quality of AMD's fabs was only relevant compared to the quality of Intel's.
Breaking the fabs into the GlobalFoundries company negates that problem. It takes the fabs off the AMD balance sheet and allows the fabs to begin to pay for themselves based on the quality of the finished products they produce in comparison to the semiconductor market, which is as wide and varied as the market for pre-cooked meals. While the previous production processes used by the fabs were geared towards AMD products, GlobalFoundries will be aiming towards a 32nm bulk process which can be easily applied to various microprocessor designs.
While Intel and AMD are the most recognizable microprocessor companies in the public eye, everything from cell phones to HDTVs to cars have microprocessors in them, and those processors are made by various smaller companies which work on specific processors for specific applications. These companies do not have their own fabs, and so they need to purchase the production services of companies like GlobalFoundries. And because GlobalFoundries is an independent company from AMD, it will be free to interact with clients in ways that AMD could not when the fabs were under its control.
This is hugely relevant to the state of microprocessor technology, as it suddenly opens advanced production technology to hundreds of firms which design, but do not produce, their own processors. Perhaps the most obvious and ironic potential client for GlobalFoundries is Nvidia, which has designed not only its wide catalogue of GPUs but also the Tegra system-on-a-chip aimed at smartphones and other mobile devices. Nvidia, like ATI (which had access to AMD's fabs but continued to contract with TSMC due to the very specific silicon-on-insulator production process used by AMD's fabs), has apparently had trouble gaining the results expected from the 40nm product process that TSMC is just beginning to use. A 32nm bulk processor offered by GlobalFoundries would be the most advanced process available. It would allow companies like Nvidia and ATI to be able to produce processors which are cooler, quicker, and less expensive per processor.