AMD becomes number-two fabless chip firm


— 2:42 PM on January 19, 2010

With its former foundry business operating as a separate company since last March, AMD has made its way into IC Insights' list of fabless semiconductor companies. And, as EE Times reports, AMD has turned into the world's second-biggest fabless player in terms of revenue.

The number-one fabless firm in the list is Qualcomm, which recently became a GlobalFoundries customer, as well. After AMD, from largest to smallest, IC Insights' top-10 list includes MediaTek, Nvidia, Marvell, Xilinx, LSI, Altera, and Avago.  Of those 10 companies, IC Insights says only Qualcomm and MediaTek saw revenue increases in 2009. The market research firm doesn't provide historical data for AMD, however, since GlobalFoundries only came into being last March.

In any case, EE Times says IC Insights expects its list of fabless semiconductor companies will only become more crowded as time goes by. The firm worked out that, in 1999, sales of fabless integrated circuit vendors only accounted for 7% of all IC sales, but that percentage grew to 23% in 2009—and it may reach 27% by 2014. The sheer cost of staying competitive on the foundry front probably has much to do with that increase. GlobalFoundries CEO Doug Grose recently revealed that developing 45- to 32-nm process technologies and building a matching fab costs around $4.1-4.9 billion.

 
   
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