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Leading-edge ICs to drive pure-play foundry sales this year

Posted: 19 Sep 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:pure-play foundry? leading-edge IC? manufacturing?

According to the latest forecast from IC Insights, TSMC will sell $6.33 billion worth of ?28nm devices this year, a three-fold increase from 2012. Before Globalfoundries entered the foundry market, TSMC was by far the technology leader among the major pure-play foundries. For 2013, 51 per cent of TSMC's revenue is expected to be from ?45nm processing. As expected, with Globalfoundries' fabs having a large portion of their capacity dedicated to producing AMD's MPUs over the past few years, its processing technology is skewed towards leading-edge feature sizes. In 2013, half of Globalfoundries' sales are forecast to be from ?45nm production.

In 2012, only TSMC, Globalfoundries and UMC had significant sales of ?45nm technology. In 2013, TSMC is expected to have about four times the dollar volume sales at ?45nm as compared to GlobalFoundries and about 12 times the ?45nm sales of UMC ($10.33 billion for TSMC, $2.53 billion for Globalfoundries and $0.89 billion for UMC). In contrast, SMIC only entered initial production of its 45nm technology in early 2012, more than three years after TSMC first put its 45nm process into production and is forecast to sell only $0.22 billion of ?45nm technology this year. In fact, only 22 per cent of UMC's 2013 revenue and 11 per cent of SMIC's 2013 sales are forecast to come from devices having ?45nm feature sizes, which is why their revenue per wafer is so low as compared to TSMC and Globalfoundries.

It is interesting to note that all of the increase in pure-play foundry sales in 2013 is expected to be due to ?28nm feature size device sales. Although forecast to represent 78 per cent of total pure-play foundry sales this year, the >28nm pure-play foundry market is expected to decline three per cent in 2013. In contrast, the 2013 leading-edge ?28nm pure-play foundry market is forecast to triple this year. Not only is essentially all the of pure-play foundry market growth forecast to come from leading-edge production, most of the profits that will be realised are also expected to come from the finer feature size sales.

TSMC had almost $1.5 billion in 28nm sales in 2Q13 and is forecast to have about $6.33 billion in sales of 28nm devices for all of 2013, over three times the $2.10 billion worth of 28nm product the company sold in 2012. As a result, TSMC is expected to hold a 78 per cent share of the pure-play foundry industry's $8.10 billion of ?28nm sales this year.

It is important for the major IC foundries to be able to offer leading-edge IC process technology. There has been a strong correlation between the percentage of sales a major foundry has for leading-edge IC devices and its net income percentage.

IC Insights continues to believe that the more profitable (i.e., successful) major pure-play foundries, which include TSMC, Globalfoundries, UMC and SMIC, will be those that keep at the leading edge of the process technology roadmap. This can be accomplished through joint ventures and licensing agreements, (e.g., the partnership between IBM and Globalfoundries) and/or through significantly increasing R&D spending to develop advanced technology, as TSMC has done.





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