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Japan, SoKor firms dominate CE chip market

Posted: 06 Aug 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CE chip market? flash memory? NAND? PMP/MP3?

Riding a surge in demand for PMP/MP3 players, Hynix Semiconductor Inc. grabbed the fifth spot in iSuppli's ranking of top consumer electronics chip suppliers in 2006, displacing Renesas Technology Corp. Driving the rise was Hynix's strong sales of NAND-type flash memory for PMP/MP3 products.

According to market analyst iSuppli, Hynix expanded its PMP/MP3 revenues to $831 million in 2006, up 42.9 percent from $582 million in 2005. This increase was the highest among the three key PMP/MP3 suppliers based on iSuppli's list, which includes Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd of South Korea, Japan's Toshiba Corp. and Hynix. The three companies together accounted for over 97 percent of global PMP/MP3 NAND flash memory revenue in 2006. PMP/MP3 unit shipments last year hit 178.1 million, up 38.4 percent from 128.7 million in 2005, said iSuppli.

"Hynix's performance was particularly notable given the relative stability of the overall rankings in 2006," said Chris Crotty, senior analyst for CE at iSuppli. "The top-10 ranked suppliers for total CE semiconductors remained the same from 2005 to 2006, despite some shifts in positions compared to 2005."

According to iSuppli, large, vertically integrated manufacturers continued to dominate the $53.1 billion CE semiconductor market in 2006, with Toshiba, Sony, Samsung and Matsushita retaining their first through fourth positions, respectively. Renesas fell three spots in the ranking to eighth place, down from fifth in 2005. As a whole, the top 10 suppliers accounted for about 50 percent of all CE semiconductor revenue in 2006. (View iSuppli's top five list of semiconductors and CE suppliershere).

PMP segment players
Meanwhile, Nvidia Corp. of the United States!due to its acquisition of PortalPlayer Inc.!passed SigmaTel Inc. to take the top spot for PMP/MP3 controller chips. Nvidia's PMP/MP3 revenue hit $173 million, despite the earlier loss of the Apple iPod nano design win to Samsung.

China's Actions Semiconductor Co. Ltd, which also moved past SigmaTel to take the second spot, shipped the most controller units, at 75.3 million. But just as Actions arose in 2005 and 2006 to challenge the market pioneers PortalPlayer and SigmaTel, a new wave of competitors emerged in late 2006 and early 2007 to confront Actions. These new competitors include startups such as Rockchip, Taiwanese fabless suppliers like Silicon Motion Technology Corp. and Sunplus Technology Co. Ltd, as well as broad-line suppliers like Analog Devices Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc.

Challenging incumbents
The fast-growing STB segment is another market where relatively smaller and/or new competitors are trying to challenge the incumbent leaders. The stakes are high as STB unit shipments will grow 11.5 percent annually to reach 197.4 million by 2011, up from 96.6 million in 2006. Meanwhile, total STB semiconductor revenues will hit $7.3 billion in 2011, up from $4.9 billion this year.

Historically, Broadcom Corp. and STMicroelectronics have dominated the market for STB video processing ICs, which reached slightly more than $2 billion in 2006. The two suppliers combined for 69.6 percent and 63.8 percent market shares in 2005 and 2006, respectively. However, many of the same factors driving growth in this market!including high-definition (HD) penetration, DVR deployment, MPEG-4 class decoding, regional satellite growth and IPTV development!also are spurring new opportunities for other suppliers.

Perennial third-place finisher, Conexant Systems Inc., which is particularly strong in the satellite segment, achieved 96.2 percent revenue growth. Intel Corp., boosted by its Zarlink acquisition, more than tripled STB-related sales. Sigma Design Inc., which leads the IPTV segment, nearly doubled its revenues to $54 million.

DVD, DSC arena
Sigma Designs also posted industry-leading growth in the DVD semiconductor market. DVD controller chip suppliers are trying to take advantage of several shifts in the market, most notably the transition from players to recorders and from current-generation red lasers to next-generation blue lasers, which are used in the HD-DVD and Blu-ray HD specifications.

Despite the efforts of newcomers to the DVD controller chip market, established suppliers MediaTek Inc., Zoran Corp. and Sunplus retained their top three positions!although Zoran passed Sunplus to take the second spot. Given recent market developments!such as Broadcom's entry to the market, Magnum Semiconductor Inc.'s acquisition of LSI Corp.'s DVD recorder business and reports of ESS Technology Inc.'s pending liquidation!the DVD controller business likely will see more significant changes during 2007, said iSuppli.

In the digital still camera (DSC) market, Zoran reaped greater success as it led in both market share and revenue growth for image processors. Known for its Camera-On-A-CHip (COACH) line of image processors, Zoran's DSC revenue grew to $149 million in 2006, up 39.3 percent from $107 million in 2005. The company, along with TI and Sunplus, benefited from the continuing shift toward outsourced assembly that favors merchant ASSP and DSP suppliers over proprietary ASIC solutions. In 2006, outsourced assembly accounted for over half of total DSC shipments.

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