The output value of China's IC design industry sector is expected to exceed US$35 billion in 2018, driven by a combination of positive factors including continued growth in shipments of China-based smartphone vendors, rising demand for consumer electronics devices amid rampant IoT applications, and the appreciation of the Chinese currency, according to Digitimes Research.
HiSilicon Technologies, Unigroup Spreadtrum RDA and Sanechips Technology (formerly ZTE Microelectronics Technology), which specialize in the design and development of smartphone SoCs and other communications chips, were China's top-3 fabless IC firms in 2015-2017 when OmniVision was excluded, said Digitimes Research. OmniVision Technologies became a China company in 2017 after being acquired by a group of China-based investors led by Hua Capital Investment.
With demand for fingerprint sensors and IoT-related chips rising, Huada Semiconductor, which was ranked fifth in 2017, is expected to narrow its gap with its nearest competitor among China's top-5 IC design houses, Digitimes Research indicated.
In 2017, revenues generated from the communications chip sector came to nearly CNY90 billion (US$13.3 billion), becoming the largest market for China's IC design industry. Nevertheless, consumer electronics ICs will be another major driver of China's IC design industry output value growth in 2018, Digitimes Research said.
In addition, the output value of China's IC design industry surpassed that of Taiwan's IC design sector by over US$10 billion in 2017, Digitimes Research said. China's IC design industry output value already surpassed Taiwan's in 2015.