Global revenue growth in the contract chip making business slowed in 2007 as a chip glut early in the year hit companies such as partners IBM Microelectronics and Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing.
Global chip foundry revenue rose an anaemic 2.5 percent year-on-year in 2007 to US$22.2 billion, marking just the second time the segment has failed to outgrow the overall semiconductor industry, according to market researcher Gartner. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) retained its lead as the world's biggest contract chip maker on revenue of $9.83 billion, but its market share fell to 44.3 percent from 45.2 percent the previous year.
IBM Microelectronics, the contract chip making arm of IBM, and technology partner Chartered both saw revenue decline last year, according to Gartner. IBM Microelectronics posted a 12.1-percent decline in revenue to $605 million, while Chartered's revenue dropped 5.4 percent to $1.45 billion.
Top 10 contract chip makers in 2007
1. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
2. United Microelectronics Corp.
3. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.
4. Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd.
5. IBM Microelectronics
6. Vanguard International Semiconductor Corp.
7. X-FAB Silicon Foundries NV
8. Dongbu Electronics Co. Ltd.
9. MagnaChip Semiconductor Ltd.
10. Shanghai Hua Hong NEC Electronics Co. Ltd.
Source: Gartner Inc.
For Chartered, the decline was significant enough to send the company down in global rankings. Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC) overtook Chartered for third place with $1.55 billion in revenue. Chartered finished fourth, while United Microelectronics (UMC) retained its second place ranking with $3.26 billion in revenue and 14.7 percent market share.
SMIC won 7-percent of the global contract chip market last year, compared to 6.5 percent for Chartered, Gartner said. The two companies have battled for third place for the past few years, changing places at least twice. Another change may be on the way.
"We do anticipate another change," said Gartner chip analyst Tan Kay-yang, by phone. Chartered's purchase earlier this year of a factory owned by Hitachi should push its revenue higher than SMIC's, helping it regain third place in 2008, Tan said.
"There will not be major changes in the top five this year aside from SMIC and Chartered," he added.