Gartner has recorded a 16.2 per cent expansion in the global semiconductor foundry market to $34.6bn (£22.6bn) in 2012 year on year – driven by mobile device demand for the first time.
Sam Wang, research vice president at Gartner, said: "2012 was the first year that the semiconductor revenue for mobile devices surpassed that of PCs and notebooks. It also marked the first year that advanced technology for mobile applications drove the foundry revenue."
Wang added that 2012 saw not only major foundries make more 28-nanometre (nm) components, but also a fine-tuning of device performance in legacy nodes at many facilities.
Gartner said TSMC, Globalfoundries and UMC were the leading producers, with Samsung – whose $600m foundry revenue for the year includes revenue from making Apple's A6 and A6X chips (but not its A4, A5 and A5X chips) – coming in fifth after SMIC.
Samsung, said Gartner, moved up four spots in the year, enjoying a growth rate of 175.5 per cent in foundry revenue.
Player number six was TowerJazz, with IBM Microelectronics in seventh place.
The increase in the foundry business was attributed to the restocking of inventory by customers, along with the increased demand of smartphones, in which wafers for advanced technology are required, the analyst firm found.
In the second half of 2012, foundries performed better than the seasonal norm due to the need of 40 nm wafers as a result of the unexpected fast rise of low-cost smartphones in China and other emerging countries, Gartner said.
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