Pureplay, foundry firms still shine in IC sales rankings

November 13, 2012 – Updating its "top 20" semiconductor supplier rankings from earlier this year, IC Insights finds most of the same trends holding true: a tough year overall for chipmakers, but fabless and foundry firms still showing very good growth.

The top 20 biggest semiconductor suppliers will collectively outpace the entire market in 2012, but just barely, a -1% slide just a point better than the overall industry, IC Insights says. Only two noticeable moves are seen happening vs. the analyst firm’s 1H12 rankings: Qualcomm and TI swapping places at #4-5, and GlobalFoundries now ahead of Fujitsu at #15.

Top 20 semiconductor sales leaders (including foundries), in US $M. (Source: IC Insights)

Several main themes emerge from these rankings:

  • Another tough year: Good thing for the foundries and fabless companies, because without them the industry picture doesn’t look pretty. Twelve of the top-ranked IC suppliers will register lower sales in 2012, including seven of the top 10.
  • Fabless and foundries growing: In a continued trend, fabless companies continue to grow and succeed, as do the foundries. Of the top five growth tracks, three are for fabless companies and two are pureplay foundries, and IC Insights projects the foundries will enjoy "very strong demand for their services over the next few years." Several IDMs have embraced a fab-lite model (TI, Renesas, ST) but without the same boost, at least for now.
  • GlobalFoundries vs. AMD: To get out from under punishing fab expenses, AMD sloughed off its manufacturing as GlobalFoundries, for whom it was the sole captive customer for a time. Now the two seem to be going in different directions: AMD’s struggles have increased in recent months, while GF has been widening its reach for a while both away from its former sibling and outside the PC market. The latest IC Insights projections flesh this out, with AMD suffering a steep decline in 2012 (-17%) while GlobalFoundries surges 31% — representing the high and low of growth rates in the top 20 semiconductor suppliers.
  • M&A vs. diversify: In contrast to the GlobalFoundries success story, a bit of M&A will cause a minor disturbance elsewhere in the rankings. Micron’s imminent takeover of Japan’s Elpida (just outside the top 20) should add $2B or more in revenues and vault it up a couple of spots.


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