While TSMC remains the clear leader in foundry wafer and chips supply, a second tier makes up a top six vendors that had annual sales of above $1 billion in 2013, according to IC Insights. Powerchip Semiconductor Corp. (Hsinchu, Taiwan), formerly a DRAM vendor, is the sixth member of that group, that has climbed above several specialist foundry suppliers including Tower Semiconductor and Dongbu Hitek.
European firms X-Fab Silicon Foundies AG and LFoundry AG do not appear at all in the top 13 ranking by 2013 sales of leading pure-play and IDM foundries.
Powerchip was one of a group of Taiwanese DRAM manufacturers that struggled to remain competitive against the higher volumes being produced by Samsung and SK Hynix. In 2011 the company announced it would stop selling DRAMs under its own brand to focus on the production of LCD drivers, CMOS image sensors, flash memory and power management both for self-branded products and on a foundry basis. At that time about half its output was of DRAM that manufactured on a foundry basis for Elpida.
The company has effected a successful transition to foundry work according to IC Insights. In 2011, Powerchip’s foundry sales were $374 million, about 29 percent of the company’s semiconductor sales. In 2012, Powerchip’s foundry sales rose to $625 million, which represented 67 percent of the company’s total semiconductor sales, and in 2013, Powerchip announced it had made a complete transition to a pure-play foundry with sales reaching $1,175 million.
Ranking of pure-play and IDM foundries by 2013 foundry sales. Source: IC Insights.
The extreme growth Powerchip showed in 2013 of 88 percent is as a result of that transition and is unlikely to be repeated in 2014, nonetheless Powerchip has the opportunity to join a second tier of foundries with enough sales volume to be able to afford to upgrade manufacturing equipment and compete at close to the leading-edge.
TSMC remained the market leader with 17 percent sales growth to nearly $20 billion, nearly half the total market. This extended its lead over the second- and third-ranked Globalfoundries and United Microelectronics Corp. Samsung was the largest IDM foundry in 2013 and with its successful supply of Apple has clearly shown an appetite for the foundry business. IC Insights estimates that Samsung’s IC foundry business segment has the potential to produce annual sales of about $5.4 billion.
However, it’s foundry fortunes may take a dent in 2014 as Apple brings up other suppliers such as TSMC. Globalfoundries needs to be on that Apple supplier list or it risks dropping down the rankings alongside UMC under an onslaught of leading-edge production from the likes of TSMC, Samsung and Intel.
In total, the top 13 foundries represented 91 percent of total foundry sales in 2013.
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