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EE Times-China survey indicates China's fabless industry

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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):

Top 10 China Fabless Brands: Beken Corp., BYD Microelectronics, CIDC, Dioo Microcircuits, Galaxycore, Hangzhou Silan Microelectronics, SG Micro Corp., Shanghai Fudan Microelectronics, Shanghai Haier Integrated Circuit, and Shenzhen Chipsea Technologies.

Top 10 Most Promising China Fabless: Chipone Technology (Beijing), Hangzhou SDIC Microelectronics, Hwa Create Corp., Maxic Technology Corp., NUFRONT, Shanghai Mountain View Silicon Technology, Shenzhen Nsiway Technology, Silergy Corp., Unicore Communications, and Wuxi Vimicro Corp.

Top 10 Outstanding Technical Support: Actions Semiconductor, Cellixsoft, China Resources Powtech (Shanghai), Datang Microelectronics Technology, Shenzhen X-Powers Technology, Shanghai SinoMCU Microelectronics, VeriSilicon, Will Semiconductor, Wuxi Si-power Micro-Electronics, and Xian Semipower Electronic Technology.

Winners voted by fabless companies participating in the 2013 China Fabless Survey are:

Most Recognized Foundry: Shanghai Huahong Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. and TSMC

Most Recognized EDA Vendor: Cadence and Synopsys

Most Recognized IP Provider: ARM

Winners voted by EE Times-China analysts are:

China Fabless Executive of the Year: Jeff Cheng, President and CEO of Maxic Technology Corp.

China Fabless Design Team of the Year: Allwinner Technology's UHD Smart Terminal Main Control Chip Project Team, FocalTech Systems (Shenzhen)'s IC Design Team, and Wuxi Silicon Technology's IC Design Team

Special Awards for China IC Industry: Mentor Graphics and SMIC

Hot Products of the Year (in alphabetical order of company names):

Processors of the Year: NUFRONT (CubeSense), SiChuan ViKen Electronics (VK8001), and Spreadtrum Communications (SC8825)

Power ICs of the Year: CellWise Semiconductor (CW2015), Dioo Microcircuits (DIO6012), and Duty Cycle Semiconductor (DU8623)

Wireless ICs of the Year: Beken Corp. (BK5933), Quintic (Beijing) Microelectronics (QN9020/9021), and Unicore Communications (UC220)

Amplifier/Data Converter ICs of the Year: Hangzhou SDIC Microelectronics (SD3025TE), SG Micro Corp. (SGM8706YN6G), and Wuhan Eshine-IC Technology (CJC5150)

Control/Driver ICs of the Year: FocalTech Systems (Shenzhen) (FT3316), Shenzhen Chipsea Technologies (CSU8RF3421), and Shenzhen Yunyinggu Technology (NPT1101)

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Global Sources is a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with Greater China.

The core business facilitates trade between Asia and the world using English-language media such as online marketplaces (GlobalSources.com), print and digital magazines, sourcing research reports, private sourcing events, and trade shows.

More than 1 million international buyers, including 95 of the world's top 100 retailers, use these services to obtain product and company information to help them source more profitably from overseas supply markets. These services also provide suppliers with integrated marketing solutions to build corporate image, generate sales leads and win orders from buyers in more than 240 countries and territories.

Global Sources' other businesses provide Chinese-language media to companies selling to and within Greater China. These services include online web sites, print and digital magazines, seminars and trade shows. In mainland China, Global Sources has a network of more than 30 office locations and a community of more than 4 million registered online users and magazine readers of its Chinese-language media.

Now in its fifth decade, Global Sources has been publicly listed on the NASDAQ since 2000.

About eMedia Asia Limited

eMedia Asia Limited is a joint venture between Global Sources (60.1%) and United Business Media's EE Times Group (39.9%).

eMedia Asia provides 500,000-plus technology decision-makers throughout Asia and China with access to a multichannel media network. Through its technical events, publications and online network, eMedia Asia leads in providing the region's electronics community with the business and technical information they need to remain competitive.


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