SAN FRANCISCOA recent report from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) provides a rare glimpse inside China's semiconductor industry, offering a ranking of 29 indigenous Chinese chip firms with 2007 revenue greater than $30 million, according to the firm.
Chip foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) is generally regarded as China's leading semiconductor company, with 2007 revenue of more than $1.5 billion.
But PwC's list excludes foundries, defining it as a ranking of indigenous Chinese companies that design, manufacture (or have manufactured by a third-party), market and sell chips.
According to the PwC report, the top indigenous Chinese chip company for 2007 was HiSilicon Technologies Co. Ltd., with revenue of about $170 million. HiSilicon Technology is the former chip R&D center of the Huawei Co. that was spun out in 2005, according to PwC.
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PwC acknowledges that the 2007 data is dated. In an email exchange, Raman Chitkara, PwC's semiconductor industry leader, said he expected there would slight fluctuations to the list based on mergers and other factors. But, he added, PwC does not expect 2008 data to result in any major changes to the list.
PwC said more than half of the companies ranked on its list are missing from industry rankings complied by market research firms. Most of the companies missing from other lists are in the discrete sector, PwC said, adding that this is "an indication of the general lack of industry awareness of the significance of China's discrete semiconductor industry sector."
A highlight of the PwC report, released Nov. 18, was that China's consumption of chips grew by 23 percent last year, when the country consumed more than a third of the chips produced globally for the first time.
In a recent cover story, EE Times reported that investment in China's emerging semiconductor/electronics industry has been slowing down for over a year, well before the current credit crisis hit the global market.
Market research firm iSuppli Corp. recently warned of shakeout looming in China's IC business saying more than 100 of China's 550 or so fabless semiconductor companies will disappear within two years.
The PwC report, which the company is offering for sale, is titled China's Impact on the Semiconductor Industry: 2008 Update.