Freed from fabs, AMD crashes fabless party

January 20, 2009 –  Having spun off its chip manufacturing operations into GlobalFoundries, AMD has positioned itself as the No.2 global fabless IC supplier in terms of sales, second only to Qualcomm, according to IC Insights.

The top 25 fabless companies collectively suffered in 2009 like everyone else, with sales declining 13%—but the top 10 did notably better, with just a 4% decline in sales, meaning their share of the overall fabless sector rose to 65%, up five points from 2007. Rising barriers to entry (high design costs, increasingly difficult access to venture capital money, etc.) means that this top grouping will likely increase its lion’s share of the market.

Note that all but one of the top 10 companies, and 17 of the top 25, are based in the US. The presence of just a single Japanese company (MegaChips, No.19) indicates domestic resistance to the fabless/foundry model, IC Insights suggests. Also note that of the five companies managing double-digit growth in 2009, four of them were from Taiwan; the island’s fabless firms in particular "staged a strong comeback" in 2H09, the analyst firm notes. MediaTek, for example, posted a 22% gain in 2009, impressive for its $3.5B size. Expect more Taiwanese (and Chinese) fabless firms to make this list in future years as their IC design houses proliferate.

Top 25 fabless IC suppliers. (Source: IC Insights)


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