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Showing posts tagged 'foundries'


15 September 2021

Chip Shortage causing car manufacturers to cut production levels

photo-1591799264318-7e6ef8ddb7ea

A week doesn’t pass without an announcement from a car manufacturer that they are cutting production levels. Idling shifts and even entire factories has become normal for an industry that thrives on maximising output. 

Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai and Toyota have cut production levels to prioritise their most lucrative models. In some cases, plants have shut down for weeks at a time to allow supply chains to catch up to one another.

To understand how big this is, a 1-2 week plant shutdown will cost a car manufacturer millions of pounds at the very least. No manufacturer would willingly do this, but the global chip shortage is forcing them to.

Chip shortage in numbers

Just 53,438 cars rolled off assembly lines in the UK in July 2021, making it the lowest output in the month of July since 1956.

In June 2021, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that car production was down 52.6% on the same month in 2019, telling us that we’re a long way off reaching pre-pandemic levels.

According to research firm AlixPartners, the chip shortage will collectively cost the auto industry $110 billion in revenue in 2021 - a revised figure and an increase of 81.5% over the same firm’s figures in late January.

More telling figures come from Fitch Ratings, who estimate the chip shortage will cost automakers 5% of production. North America and Europe will be the hardest hit, with Asia and China coming in third and fourth respectively.

What’s happening with chips!?

The automotive sector has been hit harder than any other by the chip shortage due to cancelling orders for chips at the start of the pandemic.

Anticipating a slowdown that would last months, most car markers cancelled orders for chips. Semiconductor manufacturers filled order books with orders from companies making smartphones, laptops and other devices.

When the automotive sector bounced back sooner than expected, semiconductor manufacturers had hardly any capacity to meet demand. This has led to the situation today, where car makers can’t secure the inventory they need. 

Now, there are not enough chips, foundries are running at 99% capacity and new foundries take years and billions in investment to set up.

Changing the production line for a chip costs tens of millions and takes months, labour shortages are causing a manpower crisis, and the pandemic is causing short-term factory shutdowns at foundries and fabless plants.

When will the global chip shortage end?

It will take at least five years for the global chip shortage to subside, assuming investment in new foundries begins in 2021/22. New factories are the only the way out of the shortage because demand for chips is only going to increase.

Opinions on when the shortage will end vary from early 2023 to 2025. The last 18 months has tested supply chains and wreaked havoc on production, but the automotive industry is experienced enough to cope with future problems.

When you need to source hard to find electronic components quickly because of allocation, long lead times, obsolescence or quality issues, contact Cyclops Electronics for a fast response to your enquiries and a reliable on time delivery.

Tags: chip shortage car manufacturers volkswagen ford general motors hyundai toyota alixpartners semiconductor foundries pandemic


26 May 2021

Who are the biggest players in the semiconductor industry?

semiconductor 2

Over the next decade, demand for semiconductors is going to go supersonic thanks to secular and cyclical tailwinds.

Semiconductors are the building blocks of the information age; every device that will be ‘connected’ needs a semiconductor. The companies that manufacture semiconductors are the unsung heroes of the future. But who are they?

In this article, we will briefly cover the biggest players in the semiconductor industry.

Foundries

Foundries concentrate on manufacturing and testing physical products for fabless companies. Some companies, like Intel, are both fabless and foundry, meaning they design and make their chips. Foundries often serve as a non-competitive manufacturing partner for fabless companies. The following list contains the biggest foundries:

TSMC

TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) is the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer by a significant margin. They are expected to capture 56% of the semiconductor market in 2021 (up from 54% in 2020). 

UMC

UMC (United Microelectronics Corporation) is a Taiwanese company. They are the second largest semiconductor foundry in the world behind TSMC. UMC specialise in mature nodes, such as 40nm nodes and other speciality logic.

SMIC

SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation) is a Chinese company. They are the third largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world. They specialise in process nodes from 0.35 micron to 14 nanometres.

Samsung

Samsung Electronics is a South Korean company. They are the world’s largest manufacturer of DRAM and the world’s fourth largest semiconductor manufacturer. They are expected to occupy 18% of the semiconductor market in 2021.  

Micron

Micron is an American company. They are the second largest manufacturer of DRAM (dynamic random-access memory) behind Samsung. DRAM is semiconductor memory used in consumer electronics, computing equipment and IoT devices.

SK Hynix

SK Hynix is a South Korean company. They are the world’s third largest manufacturer of DRAM and a leading manufacturer of NAND flash memory. In 2019, they developed HBM2E, the world’s fastest high bandwidth memory.

NXP Semiconductors

NXP Semiconductors is a Dutch-American company. They manufacture ARM-based processors, microprocessors and logic across 8, 16 and 32-bit platforms. Their products are used in automotive, consumer, and industrial markets.

Powerchip

Powerchip Technology Corporation is a Taiwanese company. They manufacture DRAM and memory chips, semiconductors and integrated circuits. They use a 300mm wafer production technology which can produce advanced and mature chips.

ON Semiconductor

ON Semiconductor is an American company. They design and fabricate chips and microprocessors for automotive, aerospace, industrial, cloud and Internet of Things devices. They have over 45 years’ of experience in the foundry business.

Fabless companies

“Fabless” means outsourced fabrication. Fabless companies concentrate on the research and development of chips and semiconductors. They then outsource the manufacturing of the product to a foundry. This relationship is non-competitive, and the foundry is normally a silent partner. The following list contains the biggest fabless companies:

MediaTek

MediaTek is a Taiwanese company. By market share, they are the world’s leading vendor of smartphone chipsets. They are also a leading vendor of chipsets for other consumer electronics including tablets and connected TVs.

Qualcomm

Qualcomm is an American company. They are the world’s biggest fabless company. Their product catalogue includes processors, modems, RF systems, 5G, 4G and legacy connectivity solutions. They are best-known for Snapdragon Series processors.

Broadcom

Broadcom is an American company. Depending on which figures you read, they are either the first or second largest fabless company in the world. Broadcom's products serve the data centre, networking, software, broadband, wireless, and storage and industrial markets.

NVIDIA

NVIDIA is an American company. They are the market leader for high-end graphics processing units (GPUs). In 2020, NVIDIA GeForce GPUs accounted for 82% of GPU market share. This is significantly more than AMD Radeon graphics cards, which accounted for 18%.

AMD

AMD is an American company. They design high-performance GPUs and processors for computers, where they command the second biggest market share behind Intel. Their GPUs compete against NVIDIA’s but are not considered as powerful.

Himax

Himax is a Taiwanese company. They are a leading vendor of automotive chips and semiconductors for connected devices. Their semiconductors are used in TVs, monitors, laptops, virtual reality headsets, cameras and much more.

Realtek

Realtek is a Taiwanese company. They are a fabless semiconductor company focused on developing IC products (integrated circuits). They are best-known for SoCs (System-on-Chips) network (Ethernet) and wireless (Wi-Fi) interface controllers.

Integrated device manufacturers

Some companies have foundry and fabless arms. These companies often design and fabricate their own products or design and fabricate chips for others. These integrated device manufacturers (IDMs for short) blur the line between foundry and fabless with an in-house production process that utilises little if any outsourcing. IDMs include:

Intel

Intel is an American company. They design and manufacture their own chips which they package into CPUs. Intel’s market share in the CPU market has declined in recent years, but they remain one of the top semiconductor manufacturers.

Analog Devices

Analog Devices is an American company. They have a 150mm wafer fab and a 200mm wafer fab. They have fabless production facilities and have made numerous fabless acquisitions over the years, such as OneTree Microdevices in 2017.

Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments is an American company. They have 14 manufacturing sites including silicon foundries. They specialise in the production and manufacture of wafers, digital signal processors, integrated circuits and embedded processors.

Overall

You may have noticed that the US and Taiwan dominate the semiconductor industry on the foundry and fabless side. Among the biggest semiconductor companies, the largest proportion are based in the United States. However, Taiwan is the foundry king, with the two biggest players based there (TSMC and UMC).

Semiconductors are used in all electronics that require computing power, including smartphones, PCs, and data centres and cars. A surge in demand for chip-based products will fuel the need for more semiconductors in the future. It will be up to the big players on this list to meet that demand and power our future.

Tags: semiconductors foundries tsmc umc smic samsung micron sk hynix nxp semiconductors powerchip on semiconductor fabless companies mediatek qualcomm broadcom nvidia amd himax realtek intel analog devices texas instruments


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