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Fabless firms continue winning streak over IDMs

Posted: 08 Jan 2013  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fabless sector  IDMs  FinFETs 

Revenues in 2012 for fabless companies were up six percent as those of integrated device makers fell four percent, according to an upcoming report from IC Insights.

According to the upcoming McClean report 2013, fabless semiconductor companies have once again outperformed chipmakers with their own fabs. In advance of the report's release, IC Insights' president Bill McClean shared information depicting the historical strength of the fabless sector.

Revenues for fabless chip makers grew six percent in 2012 compared to a fall of four percent for so-called integrated device makers (IDMs), according to the forthcoming report. In April, Mark Bohr, a senior executive with Intel Corp.'s manufacturing division suggested the fabless model was collapsing because it could not keep up with Intel's advances in areas such as FinFETs. (see Fabless sector trumps rest of chip industry)

"In looking at the figures [below], the fabless model is certainly not collapsing through 2012 and is unlikely to as long as Samsung, GlobalFoundries, and TSMC keep up with technology," said McClean. "In fact, fabless companies have performed better, usually much better, than IDMs every year since 1999 except 2010 when the DRAM market surged by 75 percent—The trend is pretty clear to me," he said.

"If anything, I think the IDM model is collapsing with more and more companies going to fab-lite or fabless models," he added. "In 2012, fabless IC company sales represented 27 percent of total IC sales, up from only 13 percent in 2002, not really indicative of a collapsing model," he said.

chart

Figure 1: Fabless vs IDM Company IC Sales (1999-2012)
Source: IC Insights.

- Rick Merritt
  EE Times





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