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U.S. Companies Still Hold Largest Share of Fabless Company IC Sales

March 16, 2017, anysilicon

Research information that will be posted in the March Update to the 20th anniversary 2017 edition of IC Insights’ McClean Report shows that fabless IC suppliers represented 30% of the world’s IC sales in 2016 (up from only 18% ten years earlier in 2006).  As the name implies, fabless IC companies do not have an IC fabrication facility of their own.

Figure 1 depicts the 2016 fabless company share of IC sales by company headquarters location.  As shown, at 53%, the U.S. companies held the dominant share of fabless IC sales last year, although this share was down from 69% in 2010 (due in part to the acquisition of U.S.-based Broadcom by Singapore-based Avago).  Although Avago, now called Broadcom Limited after its merger with fabless IC supplier Broadcom became official on February 1, 2016, has fabrication facilities that produce III-V discrete devices, it does not possess its own IC fabrication facilities and is considered by IC Insights to be a fabless IC supplier.

Figure 1

Figure 2 shows that in 2009, there was only one Chinese company in the top-50 fabless IC supplier ranking as compared to 11 in 2016.  Moreover, since 2010, the largest fabless IC marketshare increase has come from the Chinese suppliers, which held a 10% share last year as compared to only 5% in 2010. However, when excluding the internal transfers of HiSilicon (over 90% of its sales go to its parent company Huawei), ZTE, and Datang, the Chinese share of the fabless market drops to about 6%.


Figure 2

European companies held only 1% of the fabless IC company marketshare in 2016 as compared to 4% in 2010.  The reason for this loss of share was the acquisition of U.K.-based CSR, the second largest European fabless IC supplier, by U.S.-based Qualcomm in 1Q15 and the purchase of Germany-based Lantiq, the third largest European fabless IC supplier, by U.S.-based Intel in 2Q15.  These acquisitions left U.K.-based Dialog ($1.2 billion in sales in 2016) as the only Europe-headquartered fabless IC supplier in the fabless top 50-company ranking last year (Norway-based Nordic Semiconductor just missed making the top 50 ranking with 2016 sales of $198 million).

There is also only one major fabless Japanese firm—Megachips, which saw its sales increase by 20% in 2016 (8% using a constant 2015 exchange rate), one major South Korean fabless IC company (Silicon Works), and one major Singapore-based (Broadcom Ltd.) fabless supplier.

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