Is fab lite on analog's diet?
Mark LaPedus, EE Times(10/22/2007 9:00 AM EDT)San Jose, Calif.
-- As digital integrated-device manufacturers increasingly turn to foundries for their production needs, with some announcing they will no longer build fabs, an inevitable question arises: Will the big analog IDMs follow the same path and move toward fab-lite or even fabless strategies? The analog vendors say no. The foundries say yes. The truth appears to be somewhere in the middle.
With the foundries having largely conquered the digital space, analog is the next fertile frontier for chip outsourcing. The analog IC market is projected to fall by 2 percent, to $36.2 billion, in 2007, according to IC Insights Inc. (Scottsdale, Ariz.). But the company forecasts that analog chip sales will rebound with a 15 percent increase, to a record-high $41.7 billion, in 2008.
For years, analog IDMs have manufactured the bulk of their products in-house, shipping only a small percentage to foundries, for a number of reasons. Many analog products do not require leading-edge fabs or processes. Analog products generally have longer life cycles and can be made cheaply in older fabs for several years. And analog vendors insist fabs still give them a competitive edge.
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