The total was up 11 percent from about $90 billion in 2016 (see European share of fabless chip market halves to 1%).

When organized by company headquarters location it can be seen that US companies accounted for 53 percent of the market, as they did in 2017. This figure is down from 69 percent in 2010, due in part to the acquisition of Broadcom by Singapore-based Avago. Now renamed as Broadcom Ltd., the company is in the process of relocating its headquarters entirely in the US, which will boost the US standing in fabless domain up to about 69 percent, IC Insights said.

China and Europe boosted their market share at the expense of Taiwan in 2017. China’s share went from 5 percent in 2010 to 10 percent in 2016 and 11 percent in 2017. There were 10 Chinese companies in the top 50 list of fabless chip companies in 2017 (see Chinese break into top ten fabless ranking).

Chinese firms joining the ranks of top 50 fabless. Source: IC Insights.

This is down from 11 in 2017 because of the choice to count RDA Microelectronics and Spreadtrum as one entity under the name of parent Unigroup. With sales of $2.1 billion in 2017 Unigroup becomes the ninth largest fabless chip company, according to IC Insights. If the internal transfers of HiSilicon, ZTE and Datang are excluded then the Chinese share of the fabless market only measures about 6 percent of global supply. Over 90 percent of HiSilicon sales go to its parent company Huawei.

Next: Europe up

European companies held only 2% of the fabless IC company marketshare in 2017 as compared to 4% in 2010 but up from 1 percent in 2016. Europe’s loss of share has been due to the acquisition of CSR by Qualcomm in 1Q15 and Lantiq by Intel in 2Q15. Dialog Semiconductor is the largest European fabless chip company with sales of $1.4 billion in 2017. Nordic Semiconductor is also in the global top 50 with annual sales of $236 million.

Taiwan captured 16 percent share of total fabless company IC sales in 2017, down from 18 percent in 2016 and about the same percentage that it held in 2010.  MediaTek, Novatek, and Realtek each had more than $1.0 billion in IC sales last year and each was ranked among the top-20 largest fabless IC companies.

The fabless IC business model is not so prominent in Japan or in South Korea.  Megachips, which saw its 2017 sales jump by 40% to $640 million, was the largest Japan-based fabless IC supplier.  The lone South Korean company among the top-50 largest fabless suppliers was Silicon Works, which had a 15% increase in sales last year to $605 million.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

Chinese break into top ten fabless ranking

European share of fabless chip market halves to 1%

MediaTek falls as AMD, Nvidia climb fabless ranking

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