TAIPEI — United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) expects artificial intelligence (AI) to contribute $3 billion to company revenue by 2021 as demand for edge computing and automotive devices takes off.
AI is forecast to be one of the fastest growing markets during the next few years as more companies adopt machine learning in everything from autonomous vehicles to cryptocurrency mining. The global AI market for semiconductors is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 63 percent between 2016 and 2022, reaching $16 billion by 2022, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.
UMC sees the driving forces behind the foundry business shifting from smartphones to AI and autonomous vehicles. While UMC declined to quantify how much its AI business is currently worth, the company said it is already doing AI-related work for edge computing devices and cars.
“In recent months, we’ve seen a lot of customers coming to us to talk about the automobile segment,” said UMC Senior Vice President of Marketing Steven Liu in an interview with EE Times. “Not just Europe. We also see a lot of requests from Japan and the U.S.” That demand is coming from both IDMs and fabless companies, he said.
UMC Senior Vice President of Marketing Steven Liu
In the automotive segment, UMC silicon goes into the power train, infotainment systems, ADAS and safety systems. UMC currently builds MCUs for infotainment and ADAS.
More business is coming to UMC through fabless companies such as Faraday Technology Corp., a company that’s part of the UMC ecosystem.
“Business for the design houses has been much stronger than I anticipated,” according to Liu. “The customer portfolio is different from before. A lot of the demand is from medium and small AI-related companies. We do see the momentum continuing.”
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