The semiconductor industry is the aggregate collection of companies engaged in the design and fabrication of semiconductors. It formed around 1960, once the fabrication of semiconductor devices became a viable business. The industry's annual revenue has since grown to $412.2 billion in 2017.
The most widely used semiconductor device is the MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor), also known as the MOS transistor. Since its invention by Mohamed Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in 1959, the MOSFET has become the most widely manufactured device in history, with an estimated total of 13 sextillion MOS transistors having been manufactured between 1960 and 2018.
Unique features of the industry include continuous growth but in a cyclical pattern with high volatility. While the current 20 year annual average growth of the semiconductor industry is on the order of 13%, this has been accompanied by equally above-average market volatility, which can lead to significant if not dramatic cyclical swings. This has required the need for high degrees of flexibility and innovation in order to constantly adjust to the rapid pace of change in the market as many products embedding semiconductor devices often have a very short life cycle.
At the same time, the rate of constant price-performance improvement in the semiconductor industry is staggering. As a consequence, changes in the semiconductor market not only occur extremely rapidly but also anticipate changes in industries evolving at a slower pace. The semiconductor industry is widely recognized as a key driver and technology enabler for the whole electronics value chain.
The semiconductor industry's annual revenue grew to $412.2 billion in 2017. The following are the largest semiconductor industry sectors, as of 2017.
|3||Micro integrated circuits||$63.9 billion|
|Name||HQ country||Manufacturer type||Hardware products|
|Samsung Electronics||South Korea||IDM||NAND flash memory, DRAM, CMOS sensor, RF transceivers, OLED display, SSD|
|SK Hynix[a]||South Korea||IDM|
|Micron[b]||USA||IDM||DRAM, NAND flash, SSD, NOR flash, Managed NAND, multichip packages|
|Texas Instruments (TI)||USA||IDM|
|Analog Devices||USA||IDM||Amplifiers, data converters, audio & video products, RF & microwave, sensors, MEMS|
|Microchip||USA||IDM||Microcontroller and analog semiconductors|
- Pure-play foundries – They specialize in foundry services. They may or may not offer design services to third parties, as well as mask (photomask) making, semiconductor packaging and testing services, which can also be outsourced to other companies. An example is TSMC, which offers design, testing and packaging services, TCE phtomasks, which offers only mask making services, and ChipMOS, which offers only packaging and testing services.
- IDMs (integrated device manufacturers) – They may or may not offer foundry services.
- Fabless suppliers – They do not offer foundry services. They may or may not offer design services to third parties.
Manufacturers headquartered in the following regions are the sales leaders in the pure-play foundry, IDM (integrated device manufacturing), fabless manufacturing and OSAT (outsourced semiconductor assembly and testing) sectors of the industry.
|1||Taiwan||United States||United States||Taiwan|
|2||United States||South Korea||Taiwan||United States|
|4||Israel||European Union||European Union||Singapore|
Note that manufacturers headquartered in the United States have fabrication plants across the world, including over 50% in the Americas, 39% in the Asia-Pacific region (including 9% in Japan), and 9% in Europe.
Patent holders from the following countries produced the highest number of annual semiconductor patents worldwide, as of 2005.
- Electronic design automation
- List of semiconductor fabrication plants
- Foundry model
- Semiconductor consolidation
- Semiconductor device fabrication
- Semiconductor fabrication plant
- Semiconductor Industry Association
- Semiconductor industry in India
- Transistor count
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