At first I thought this was because AMD had drastically misforcasted demand for their products, but it seems AMD probably entered into this take-or-pay agreement knowing it would having to pay a substational amount.
AMD negotiated the take-or-pay, to replace the previous agreement, at the same time that they got rid of their last 8% of ownership in GF.
According to the new agreement, AMD has negotiated a “take or pay” agreement for wafer prices in 2012, as well as a “framework” for pricing in 2013. A take-or-pay agreement is a contract in which the buyer (AMD) either accepts a product or pays the manufacturer a penalty. In 2011, AMD negotiated a wafer price arrangement with GF in which it only paid for “good” dies. Scuttlebutt indicated that GF was quite unhappy with this deal, as it left the company losing money on every Llano wafer it could build.
So what did AMD get? Manufacturing flexibility. Previously, Sunnyvale had agreed to manufacture 28nm APUs solely with GlobalFoundries. This new agreement voids that arrangement, freeing AMD to work with TSMC other foundries. It’s not an agreement that came cheap — not only is AMD giving up its 8.8% equity share of GF, it’s agreed to pay the manufacturer some $425 million by the end of Q1 2013. AMD will take a $703M charge against the transaction.