Chinese Top Chipmaker SMIC Is "Fastest Growing Pure-Play Foundry Among Top4"

by Swarajya Staff - Feb 11, 2022 04:31 PM +05:30 IST
Chinese Top Chipmaker SMIC Is "Fastest Growing Pure-Play Foundry Among Top4"SMIC
Snapshot
  • Though SMIC comes fourth among the pure-play foundries by revenue, but it is the fastest growing company in the world among the top4 pure play foundries.

    As per report, the company has achieved a 39 per cent year-over-year growth in 2021 compared to 2020.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), the state-owned China chipmaker, has achieved a 39 per cent year-over-year growth in 2021 compared to 2020 as per the latest reports.

The company's fourth quarter 2021 revenue exceeded US $1.5 billion for the first time, and the annual revenue for 2021 touched US $5.4 billion. The 2021 performance could catapult SMIC among the top four pure-play foundries in the world.

Widely regarded as ‘national champion’ for the pivotal role it plays in China’s ambition to turn self-reliant in advanced technologies like chips, SMIC is backed by several state-owned entities. It is also a key production partner for many Chinese chip developers, as well as U.S. chip developer Qualcomm.

In Dec 2020, US administration placed SMIC on a export blacklist after determining that it posed risk due to close ties with Chinese military. The chip-maker was denied access to advanced US technology as US government determined that it posed risk due to close ties with Chinese military.

US companies are now required a license to sell sophisticated technology to SMIC that helps with the production of the most-advanced chips -- those 10 nanometers or smaller. The blockade has made it nearly impossible for the Chinese chip-maker to gain access to advanced US technology.

Since SMIC is China’s largest contract chip manufacturer, the U.S action was seen as a big setback to China’s long-standing ambitions to become self-reliant on critical technologies.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the semiconductor chip manufacturing behemoth that pioneered the pure-play foundry business model, reported a revenue of NT$1,587.42 billion (USD 57.11 billion) from January through December 2021, representing an increase of 18.5 percent compared to the same period in 2020.

South Korean electronics manufacturing giant Samsung Electronics surpassed U.S chipmaker Intel to become the world's leading chipmaker by revenue in 2021, according to a report released by research firm Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

While Samsung is the dominant player in memory chip market (both DRAM & NAND) with 44% market share in DRAM chips (dynamic random access memory used for temporary storage in desktops) and 36% in NAND devices (used for permanent storage in mobiles), the company aim to become the world leader in logic chips by 2030.

In terms of semiconductor sales in 2020, Samsung was at the second position behind Intel(approximately $62 billion revenue versus Intel's $76 billion). By the end of 2020, Samsung had also emerged as the second biggest player (by revenues) in the overall electronics industry (approximately $220 billion revenue versus Apple's $260 billion).

Taiwanese UMC reported NT$213 billion (USD $7.6 billion) as its 2021 revenue with year-over-year growth of 20.5 per cent. GlobalFoundries which is headquartered in the US but with 89 per cent share held by UAE's Mubadala achieved 2021 revenue of $6.6 billion with year-over-year growth of 36 per cent.

Though SMIC comes fourth among the pure-play foundries by revenue (or fifth if we include Samsung's foundry revenue also), it seems to have achieved a higher revenue growth than others in 2021. Some part of that may have been a result of customers like HiSilicon moving from TSMC to SMIC after US imposed restrictions.

A table published by ExtremeTech in March 2021 showing TSMC's possible customer share of revenues showed HiSilicon's share falling from 15 per cent in 2019 to 0 per cent in 2021. HiSilicon is a Chinese fabless company fully owned by Huawei.

Chinese Top Chipmaker SMIC Is "Fastest Growing Pure-Play Foundry Among Top4"
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