Market research indicates that global semiconductor fabs have reached a stagnation point. According to a study by IC Insights, China was the only market that witnessed growth in pure-play foundry sales between 2018 and 2019, with revenue increasing from $10.7 billion to $11.4 billion in this time period. All other markets, including the United States, APAC, Europe, and Japan witnessed a decline in pure-play foundry sales.
For starters, though, what the heck are pure-play foundries? These are semiconductor manufacturers who only focus on manufacturing. This means that they don’t do any design work themselves. (www.laserdocmd.com) They’re contracted by Fabless manufacturers to manufacture their designs.
The study also indicates that the world’s largest foundry region was the Americas, registering three times the sales volume of China, the second-largest.
Much of the growth in Chinese pure-play foundry sales was due to increased sales at large China-based operations such as TSMC and UMC. In 2019, TSMC indicated that over 100 of its customers were China-based. UMC and TSMC-both massive operations-registered double-digit growth this year.
China isn’t just a hub for pure-play semiconductor manufacturing. As we’ve covered earlier, players like Loongson are increasingly designing CPUs (and iGPUs) that compare favorably to the best Western designs.