SUNNYVALE, Calif. - Despite years' of promises in the foundry business, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. continues to lag in the sector, according to the 2010 rankings from IC Insights Inc.
South Korea's Samsung was ranked 10th in the foundry business in terms of sales for 2010, which was the same disappointing position as it was in 2009, according to IC Insights. Samsung's foundry sales hit $400 million in 2010, up 38 percent over 2009, according to the firm.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) was in first place in the foundry business with $13.307 billion in sales in 2010, up 48 percent over 2009, according to IC Insights.
TSMC was the clear leader, followed in order by UMC ($3.965 billion-up 41 percent over 2009), Globalfoundries ($3.510 billion-up 219 percent), SMIC ($1.555 billion-up 45 percent), TowerJazz ($510 million-up 70 percent), Vanguard ($508 million-up 33 percent), Dongbu ($495 million-up 25 percent), IBM ($430 million-up 28 percent), MagnaChip ($420 million-up 60 percent) and Samsung ($400 million), according to the firm.
In the rankings, Samsung led SSMC ($330 million-up 18 percent), X-Fab ($320 million-up 51 percent), HHNEC ($295 million-up 23 percent), TI ($285 million-up 14 percent) and Grace ($260 million-up 44 percent), according to the firm.
In the 2010 rankings, TSMC and UMC remained in the first and second spots, same as 2009. Globalfoundries jumped from 4th in 2009 to 3rd in 2010, SMIC jumped 5th to 4th, TowerJazz jumped from 9th to 5th, Vanguard jumped from 7th to 6th, Dongbu fell 6th to 7th, IBM remained in 8th, and MagnaChip jumped from 12th to 9th.
''In fact, TSMC’s sales in 2010 were more than 3X that of second-ranked UMC, which in turn had more than twice the sales of the fourth-ranked foundry SMIC,'' according to a report from IC Insights.
The big surprise was Samsung. For years, Samsung has talked about becoming a big player in the foundry business. The memory giant has secured several foundry customers-including Apple, Ixys, Qualcomm, Xilinx and others-but it has yet to change the landscape.
''Samsung is expected to climb in the rankings over the next few years,'' said Bill McClean, president of IC Insights, at the firm's forecast event here.. ''The company has the ability and desire to become a major force in the IC foundry business.''
McClean also reiterated his IC forecast, which calls for 10 percent growth this year.
Meanwhile, this week, South Korea's Samsung increased the stakes in the leading-edge semiconductor business by rolling out a 20-nm process
for foundry and logic. During a separate presentation a
t the Common Platform technology event this week, N.S. (Stephen) Woo, president of Samsung's LSI Division, said that the company would shortly announce a new ''initiative’’ on the manufacturing side.
At a press event, Woo did not elaborate. Analysts believe that Samsung plans to announce a fab or will upgrade an existing plant.
Samsung's foundry strategy remains a mystery. Attempts to interview Woo one-on-one were unsucessful at the event, as Samsung's public relations arm said Woo was scheduled for another meeting and was unavailable for comment.
Clearly, though, Samsung wants to be a player on the leading-edge; they want to go toe-to-toe with TSMC, UMC, and, to a large degree, with its partners in IBM's ''fab club,'' such as Globalfoundries. Rumors are also rampant that Samsung wants to re-enter the mixed-signal and analog business for foundry and standard products.