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Asian foundries bring 0.18?m into mainstream

Posted: 02 May 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ic design? ic design house survey? ee times-asia? huawei? switcher ic?

Despite a bleak scenario in the global semiconductor market, China's IC design industry posted significant growth in 2004, according to the "IC Design House Survey" conducted by EE TimesAsia. By yearend, 421 companies had engaged in IC design in the mainland, and the number of manufacturers involved in this industry had increased to about 16,500. Moreover, total revenues reached $984 millionan increase of 41.5 percent over the previous year.

The growth is attributed to the demand in display drivers, smart cards, wireless communications and multimedia chips. In the next four years, the CAGR is forecasted to reach 65 percent, with sales value reaching $9.6 billion in 2008.

Last year, the design line-width of most products under mass production used 0.18?m. Only a few products were developed using 0.13?m technology, with scientific research moving toward 90nm. The maximum level of production integration has reached 50Mgates. Products that have displayed competitive advantage include TFT-LCDs and LED drivers from Solomon Systech, MP3 chips from Actions Semiconductor and 2G digital ID cards from Huada Electronics.

Some companies have shown competitive IC design technology. For example, Huawei developed a switcher IC with nearly 50Mgates using 0.13?m cmos technology. Spreadtrum Communications, meanwhile, manufactured a single td-scdma/gsm/GPRS multimode baseband chip using advanced 0.18?m D/A and mixed-signal CMOS technology. Moreover, NanShanBridge Co. Ltd successfully developed a 14Mgate Ethernet router switch chip using 0.18?m CMOS process.

SoC chip design has been established as the breakthrough point in China's IC design industry's efforts to realize the so-called "collective breakout." With more and more companies entering the field of SoC design, integration of software and hardware becomes more challenging. Respondent companies expressed that, with fiercer market competition and much shorter product life, decreasing the IC design cycle becomes one of their greatest challenges.

Jake Chen and Cindy Hu

EE Times-China

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