In this year’s analog ranking gleaned from IC Insights’ McClean Report, while Texas Instruments has maintained its firm grip on the top slot, what’s really newsworthy is Skyworks Solutions’ ascent to number three rank while riding on upgrade cycles for 5G and Wi-Fi designs. TI’s competitive edge in 300-mm wafer for analog IC manufacturing is another major highlight.
Skyworks made strong gains in 2020 after winning sockets in 5G smartphones launched by Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, and other tier-1 handset manufacturers. The Irvine, California-based analog powerhouse specializes in front-end modules and power amplifiers (PAs) for smartphones, SiP and SoC devices for wireless infrastructure, Wi-Fi connectivity modules and ICs, and connectivity chips for ZigBee and Bluetooth applications.
The RF specialist also offers power management chips and precision analog components. Skyworks recently made waves when it acquired Silicon Labs’ analog components business for $2.75 billion. The acquisition telegraphed the company’s ambition to move beyond RF territory and encompass other critical analog and mixed-signal areas.
TI’s 300-mm advantage
Another nugget from this year’s analog rankings is how TI is consolidating its position with homegrown 300-mm wafers at the RFAB plant in Richardson, Texas. According to the report, the fabrication of analog chips at 300-mm is 40% cheaper than 200-mm wafers. Likewise, fully packaged and tested analog chips are 20% cheaper than ICs produced on 200-mm wafers.
That’s a significant competitive advantage, and to consolidate this manufacturing advantage, TI is building another 300-mm fab next to the RFAB plant. TI’s RFAB was the world’s first 300-mm analog fab when it opened in 2009, and in retrospect, it became a unique cornerstone in TI’s analog forte. Here, it’s worth mentioning that analog amounts to 80% of the company’s IC sales.
This year’s analog ranking, based on 2020 shipments, answers another critical question: will the merger of Analog Devices Inc. and Maxim Integrated challenge TI’s top slot in analog sockets? TI with a 19% market share is still way ahead of the combined marker shares of ADI and Maxim amounting to 13%. However, the merger will cement the combined firm’s second position behind TI.
Majeed Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief of EDN and Planet Analog, has covered the electronics design industry for more than two decades.