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FSA rechristened as Global Semiconductor Alliance

Posted: 05 Dec 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Fabless Semiconductor Association? Global Semiconductor Alliance? supply chain?

The Fabless Semiconductor Association has announced that it is changing its name to the Global Semiconductor Alliance. The rechristening reflects a change that has already happened in the organization, according to Jodi Shelton, executive director of the FSA, who will retain that role with the GSA. "The name change is really catching up with what we've been doing for about four years," she said. "We have the complete supply chain represented on the board."

Not competing with SIA
That begs the question of whether the group might eclipse the Semiconductor Industry Association as the chip industry's organization of record.

The SIA is essentially a U.S. operation. Back when "the semiconductor industry" and "Silicon Valley" were virtually synonymous, the SIA could speak for the industry at large on many topics. Today, it is involved in the collection and dissemination of carefully watched global chip sales statistics.

But in an industry that is increasingly driven by an east-west axis, the SIA is not a global organization. And the World Semiconductor Council, which brings the SIA together with equivalent regional bodies in Europe, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China, is a relatively politicized, loose coalition that seldom meets.

In contrast, the FSA has always represented a global constituency.

Focus on members
The 500-strong corporate membership comes from 25 countries and includes traditional integrated device manufacturers, EDA software vendors, packaging and test companies, along with the fabless chip companies and foundry suppliers that one would expect to find on the roster. "Samsung, Intel, NXP, Infineon and STMicroelectronics are all members," Shelton said.

But she denied that the GSA will tread on the toes of the SIA or other industry bodies.

"We have tried not to duplicate the services other groups are providing. There is such a long list of things members want us to do," Shelton said. "There's no overlap with what the SIA is doing. The SIA is a U.S. organization."

Indeed, Shelton pointed out that the FSA has been actively engaged with the India Semiconductor Association. "We're trying to reach out to regional groups where it makes sense," she said.

Humble beginning"We had to start our own club to represent the fabless community's interests because no one wanted us," Shelton said. "Now we're opening it up to address the challenges that are stunting growth, stunting profitability" across the semiconductor supply chain.

The FSA started in 1994 with 45 members, including two foundries: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd and Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte of Singapore.

"At that time, we needed to establish fabless as a legitimate mode of business. Now, we don't need to do that" any longer, Shelton said, observing that most major chip companies have adopted at least a fab-lite model and that more than 10 fabless semiconductor companies have achieved annual revenue in excess of $1 billion.

The fabless semiconductor segment is estimated to have generated $50 billion in 2007.

The newly defined mission of the GSA is "to accelerate the growth and increase the return on invested capital of the global semiconductor industry by fostering a more effective fabless ecosystem through collaboration, integration and innovation," Shelton said.

The word change from "association" to "alliance" in the group's name was made because the GSA no longer represents the interests of a homogeneous collection of companies operating on one business model, Dwight Decker, chairman of the GSA and nonexecutive chairman of Conexant Systems Inc., said in a statement. The alliance's role, he said, "will be to reduce inefficiencies to ensure the long-term viability, growth and profitability of the semiconductor industry" at large.

The fabless are not being abandoned, Shelton said: The GSA will continue to support the entrepreneurs and innovators who are the lifeblood of the industry. But "the whole ecosystem has to work efficiently and successfully for the industry to grow profitably," she said.

Products and services
Traditionally, the FSA has published market statistics and analyses, conducted surveys, organized focus groups and sponsored topical and regional meetings and conferences.

Notwithstanding the presence of EDA companies within its membership, the group has also produced free software tools. The Hard Intellectual Property Quality Risk Assessment Tool ver 3.0 is the first deliverable in its IPecosystem tool suite.

"Most of these products and services are free to members," Shelton said, adding that the GSA would continue such work. "We are a membership-driven organization, unlike some others which may be more events-driven," Shelton added. Most of our events are not meant to generate revenue or profits."

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

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