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Dongbu expands despite unstable market

Posted: 19 Oct 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:analog? foundry? IC?

South Korea analog foundry vendor Dongbu HiTek has quietly expanding its reach despite a sudden slowdown in the IC market.

According to John Yong-In Park, CEO, Dongbu, the company's fab capacity is fully booked right now and will be sold out at least until the end of this year. He said during an interview with EE Times that ''We were busy last year'' in spite of the recession, adding ''It's still very busy.''

The company expects 30-to-40 percent growth in 2010 over 2009, Park said. He also noted plans to strengthen its analog process portfolio by entering the automotive and industrial foundry segments. The company has also introduced a new IP ecosystem.

However, the company also faces some challenges. The company hopes to cut its debt and move out of the red, although it is nearing break-even. Regarding 2011, the overall outlook for ICs is unclear.

Still, Dongbu is one of the best-kept secrets in the industry. Last year, the company was the world's sixth largest pure-play foundry vendor in terms of sales, behind TSMC, UMC, Chartered, SMIC and GlobalFoundries, according to IC Insights Inc. Dongbu's sales were $395 million in 2009, according to the firm.

Last year, Chartered was acquired by GlobalFoundries' parent. So technically, Dongbu was the world's fifth largest foundry and the biggest so-called specialty foundry. Specialty foundries primarily provide analog, mixed-signal and related processes. TowerJazz, Vanguard, X-Fab and others compete in this market. TSMC, GlobalFoundries and others also offer analog processes to various degrees.

Dongbu has disclosed a few customers on its website, including ADI, iWatt, New Japan Radio, Silicon Mitus, Richtek, among others, sources said.

Company matters
The company is part of the Dongbu Corp., a large conglomerate in South Korea. The group is involved in chemicals, construction, financial services and insurance.

In the 1990s, the company entered the IC market. At first, it hoped to compete in the GaAs and DRAM markets. It halted those efforts. Then, in 2000, it entered the leading-edge foundry market. Then, two events changed the misfortunes for the company. Not long ago, the company exited the leading-edge foundry market and entered the analog/specialty foundry business. Then, in January of 2009, Dongbu HiTek promoted Park from senior executive VP to president and CEO of its semiconductor business. Park, a reserved but insightful executive, happened to start his career as an analog design engineer. This, he said, gives him an insight in terms of how to solve the analog and mixed-signal problems for his foundry customers.

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