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Taiwan's design foundries thriving despite downturn

Posted: 16 Jun 2001 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:soc design foundry? taiwan's design fabs? soc design? embedded ip solutions?

While electronics production and services industries are facing a worldwide recession, there is one new segment?SoC design foundry?that is growing exponentially, and as most electronic companies lay off people in thousands, design foundry companies are almost doubling their staff strength every year.

This industry, which started some two years ago, is mainly limited to Taiwan. Explains Jason Liu, deputy manager marketing of Global UniChip Corp., a leading design foundry, "Proximity to wafer foundries greatly cuts down costs for design foundries. With the world's biggest wafer foundries situated in Taiwan, the island has an edge over other countries. Taiwan also has the world's second largest design house industry that boasts 200 design houses. With the emergence of design foundry services, Taiwan is uniquely poised to dominate design foundry services."

How is design foundry different from a design house? Explains Liu, "A design house merely designs an IC. A design foundry provides total solutions from embedded IPs required for SoC to the challenging and complex tasks of time-to-market SoC design, production and testing services."

There are five design foundries in Taiwan. Says Liu: "Companies from America and Europe have been scouting around in Taiwan to set up design foundries. By the end of this year there should be half a dozen more design foundries, some of which will be from abroad."

From a turnover of $3 million in 2000, Global Unichip is projecting a turnover of $18 million in 2001, and of $24 million in 2002. The company employs 100 engineers and within a year, the number is expected to grow by 100 percent. As the design-foundry industry is still in its infancy, the turnover is estimated less than $30 million. It is projected to grow by 600 to 1,000 percent in the coming year.

Global UniChip has alliances with TSMC, ARM and Tensilica. Global UniChip's technologies are specifically optimized for TSMC's 0.25?m and 0.18?m, and will move to 0.15?m by the end of 2001.

? Kirtimaya Varma

Electronic Engineering Times ? Asia

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