[China] China's fabless turn to Taiwan, says survey


China's fabless chip companies are turning to Taiwan to a greater degree to help them get close to the leading-edge in geometry and compete globally, according to an IC design house and fabless chip company survey conducted by EE Times-China.


Some 9.2 percent of China's fabless chip companies are producing digital ICs using 45-nm or below process technologies, according to the survey.


"In the past decade, we have witnessed the emergence and rapid growth of mainland China's IC design industry. When we first started our survey in 2002, only 20 percent of local IC design firms used 0.25-micrometer or below process technologies, while over 72 percent of their counterparts in the U.S. used 0.18 micrometer or below technologies. Even five years ago, the industry was at least two generations behind the U.S. in terms of process technology," said Brandon Smith, publisher of EE Times-China, in a statement.


While 23.2 percent and 27.5 percent of respondent companies are using 0.13 micrometer process technologies to make analog and mixed signal ICs, respectively, these two sectors continue to be dominated by 0.18 micrometer and 0.35 micrometer processes.


Of the survey respondents that use foundry services 63 percent use foundries based in Taiwan, which compares with 57 percent in 2010. And 33.1 percent work with TSMC compared with 30 percent in 2010. Meanwhile 18.9 and 15.0 percent say they work best with the Chinese foundries SMIC and CSMC respectively.


The survey also shows that 57 percent of mainland China's ICs are used for consumer electronics products such as mobile phones and tablet PCs. This market sector is characterized by rapid innovation and intense competition, which is expected to continue to drive the fast development of the local IC design industry.


Source: EETimes