GOYANG, South Korea – Several years ago, South Korea’s semiconductor industry consisted of a few and giant integrated device manufacturers (IDMs).
In recent times, the nation’s fabless community emerged. They are not exactly household names, but Korea’s fabless players include Imagis, Mtekvision, Silicon Works and TLI.
One of the newer players is Silicon Mitus Inc. (Seoul), a supplier of analog and mixed-signal devices that is reportedly causing some headaches for the multinationals, such as Maxim, ST, TI and others.
For years, the multinationals have dominated the sockets within Korea’s two biggest OEMs: LG Electronics Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. But slowly, the tide is turning, as Korea’s fabless players are getting a foothold inside LG and Samsung.
Silicon Mitus is quietly grabbing some power management chip sockets inside the South Korean consumer electronics giants. The company’s claim to fame is the ability to devise products faster than its competitors.
Youm Huh, president and CEO of Silicon Mitus, declined to comment on the company’s prospects with LG and Samsung. Huh confirmed privately-held Silicon Mitus is growing at a fast clip, as its sales have jumped from $20 million in 2009 to $45 million in 2010.
''We’ve enjoyed the upturn for more than a year,’’ he told EE Times in a recent interview.
Going forward, Huh remains cautious about demand in the fourth quarter of 2010. ''Demand is getting soft,’’ he said. ''The exception is smartphones,’’ which are seeing strong demand.
For 2011, he sees flat growth for the IC industry. Much of this ‘’depends on the worldwide economy,’’ he said.
Silicon Mitus sells power management chips for displays, LCD TVs, LED TVs and related products. ''We are completing our portfolio for LCD displays,’’ he said.
Following those efforts, Silicon Mitus is looking at the mobile space. Besides Korea, the company has also set up channels in China, Japan and Taiwan.
It has a small design center in Silicon Valley and is planning to set up a similar facility in China. The company primarily uses Dongbu HiTek as its foundry, but it is looking at other foundries for a second-source.
Founded in 2007, the company last year received $6 million in funding from Walden International and ePlanet Ventures. This brought the total capitalization for the startup to $12 million.