Analog Chip Market Grew 30 Per Cent In 2021, Greater Than Overall Chip Market: IC Insights

Leading semiconductor chip (integrated circuit or IC) analysis group IC Insights has published an overview of how the analog chip market grew in 2021 compared to 2020.

Analog ICs handle continuous signals like audio or video while digital ICs handle discrete signals such as binary values. Quoting from a study on global semiconductor value chain, “Without analog ICs, it would be impossible to charge a battery, drive an electric motor, make phone calls (access radio waves) or listen to Spotify”.

The study further says “many types of semiconductors, such as analog and mixed-signal semiconductors (power supply and radio frequency (RF) chips, sensors and many more), do not depend on node shrinkage” — the same has been emphasised previously in Swarajya articles here, here and here.

IC Insights’ ranking includes sales of general-purpose analog components, mixed-signal analog, and application-specific analog devices that have at least 50 per cent analog circuitry on board. This follows the definition established by World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) that reads, “Devices are classified as analog if at least 50 % of the total die area of the integrated circuits(s) in the device is occupied by analog circuitry.”

The complete list of top 10 analog IC suppliers for 2021 is shown in the chart below. The rankings of the companies did not change from 2020 to 2021, however the percentage of growth among the top-10 ranged from 20 per cent (STMicroelectronics) to 49 per cent (Skyworks Solutions). Analog ICs remain a critical component in nearly all digital-centric systems. The analog market grew by 30 per cent last year, while the total IC market increased 26 per cent.

Six of the top 10 are based in the US, three are headquartered in Europe, and one is based in Japan. Collectively, the top 10 accounted for $50.4 billion in analog IC sales last year, which represented 68 per cent of the total analog market.

Most of the companies listed in the top-10 have their own fabs, making them integrated device manufacturers (IDMs). Fabless companies contract the fabrication to pure-play foundries with Analog offering — for example Taiwan based TSMC, US based GlobalFoundries, Israel based Tower Semiconductors, etc. IDMs also many times contract the fabrication to pure-play foundries, especially for specialised ICs and sometimes for large volumes that their own fabs cannot handle.

ISMC, one of the applicants for India’s $10 billion incentive scheme for semiconductors, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Karnataka state government and said that it will set up a $3 billion fab with Analog and mixed-signal capabilities at Mysuru in technology partnership with Tower Semiconductors, once approved by the Centre.

Another applicant, Vedanta, has said that it will finalise a location for its semiconductor and display plants in India by mid-June and that “Foxconn is our technical partner. We may not take equity partner for the fab”. Also, Foxconn will have technical responsibility for the operation, from providing the tech to making semiconductors. In recent years, Foxconn has made various attempts (mostly 150mm and 200mm fabs) and announcements (including 300mm fab) at semiconductor foundry business.

As per a statement from IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw given in February, the evaluation of current applicants will take 8-10 months which pegs it around the end of 2022. Since February, the government has also been trying to hire industry professionals as CEO, CTO and CFO to drive India Semiconductor Mission.

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