EE Times-China survey indicates China's fabless industry enters growth stage with use of advanced 45nm or below process technologies doubling YOY
Winners of 2013 China Fabless Awards revealed
SHANGHAI, Sept. 6, 2013 – EE Times-China, a leading electronic engineering title of Global Sources' (NASDAQ: GSOL) joint venture subsidiary, eMedia Asia Limited, today revealed the results of its 12th annual China Fabless Survey and sixth China Fabless Awards. Survey findings show marked improvement in the fabless industry's design capability: 24 percent of respondent companies utilize advanced 45nm or below process technologies for digital ICs, doubling from 12 percent in 2012. For analog ICs, 30 percent of China fabless companies are at 0.13μm or less, which is 3 percentage points higher than last year.
Brandon Smith, Publisher of EE Times-China, said: "China's fabless industry is moving from its infancy to growth stage. According to our Survey, 40 percent of companies have been established for five to 10 years, while 34 percent have been in business for more than 10 years. China is now the world's third largest chip design center, with total sales of 62.168 billion yuan in 2012. IC design has always been the fastest growing segment of China's semiconductor industry, and its share in the industry has been increasing consistently."
According to the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the fabless industry targets to achieve annual sales of 110 billion yuan by 2015, accounting for one-third of China's IC industry. However, local IC design houses still lag behind the world's top fabless in terms of scale: the Survey indicates 78 percent of respondent companies have annual sales below US$50 million.
At today's China Fabless Awards presentation ceremony in Shanghai, Professor Wei Shaojun, General Director of CSIA-ICCAD was the keynote speaker and shared his thoughts on how China's semiconductor industry can move up to a new level. Top executives from leading fabless and upstream companies were also invited to participate in the panel discussion on China's growing role in the global semiconductor and electronics industry.
As for applications, the proportion of China-designed ICs used in consumer electronics increases to 60 percent, compared with 50 percent in 2012; mobile phones, tablet PCs and set-top-boxes remain the main applications. Ratio of computer, telecom and other applications has all dropped slightly. All this matches the focus of China's electronics industry. With its shorter product life cycle compared with other industry segments, consumer electronics will see continued growth in IC demand. More and more fabless companies now pay close attention to consumer electronics applications.
More fabless provide design and IP services
More China fabless companies offer design and IP services this year, according to the Survey. Those providing design services increase to 35 percent (2012: 29 percent) while companies supplying IP services grow to 23 percent (2012: 17 percent), each rising by 6 percentage points. This reflects growing demand from systems companies for design and IP services, and design capability – especially innovative, fast and differentiated design solutions – will be an increasingly important competitive advantage among China fabless companies.
The Survey also shows that more China IC design houses use mainland foundries, with its proportion rising from 80 percent in 2012 to 88 percent this year, and EE Times-China believes this is mainly due to stronger capability of local foundries. Companies that use SMIC and Huahong Grace increase to 24 percent and 17 percent, respectively (2012: 20 percent and 16 percent).
When contracting foundries, fewer fabless companies say "cost" is a major challenge (dropping from 72 percent to 54 percent). Owing to their design capability limitations, IP library is an important consideration when choosing foundries. As many as 28 percent of local IC design houses indicate "insufficient IP library" as a major challenge when working with foundries.
Improvement in process technology has a big impact on China fabless' operations. As design-to-manufacture issues and manufacturability affect yield and cost, more China IC design houses find "communication with foundry" a big challenge (increasing to 24 percent from last year's 11 percent). Also, as smaller design process technologies are used for digital ICs, more design challenges are seen. For example, 20 percent of companies state "signal integrity" as a challenge faced during the design process, compared with just 5 percent in 2012.
For more information on EE Times-China's 12th China Fabless Survey, please visit www.emrgresearch.com.
2013 China Fabless Awards winners revealed
EE Times-China also announced the winners of the sixth China Fabless Awards, which were selected through voting by China's system design engineers, fabless companies participating in the China Fabless Survey, and EE Times-China analysts.
2013 China Fabless Awards winners as voted by China's system design engineers are (in alphabetical order):
Winners voted by fabless companies participating in the 2013 China Fabless Survey are:
Winners voted by EE Times-China analysts are:
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eMedia Asia Limited is a joint venture between Global Sources (60.1%) and United Business Media's EE Times Group (39.9%).
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