Richard Goering, EE Times(10/10/2006 2:29 PM EDT) SANTA CLARA, Calif.
— It's becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to own a semiconductor fabrication facility, according to panelists at Mentor Graphics' EDA Tech Forum here Monday (Oct. 9). But panelists disagreed over the viability of the fabless semiconductor, integrated device manufacturer (IDM), and foundry models as process nodes shrink.
Moderator Wally Rhines, Mentor Graphics CEO, opened by quoting a Gartner Dataquest report that around 25 percent of semiconductor revenues come from fabless companies. This figure is expected to slowly increase to about 30 percent. But Rhines noted that there are very few "pure" fabless, IDM, or foundry companies. He observed that two IDMs represented on the panel — Samsung and Freescale — also buy and sell foundry capacity.
The IDM approach has key advantages, said Chekib Akrout, vice president of technology at Freescale Semiconductor. "It allows us to develop a design and have the interaction we need with manufacturing," he said. "That synergy allows us to provide the best product for our customers."
Richard Tobias, CTO and vice president of engineering at Pixelworks, responded that there's no disadvantage to not having a fab. He said his company's fabless approach allows it to work with multiple foundries, and removes worries about fab capacity.
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