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Japanese semicon industry plummets

Posted: 13 Apr 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:semicon industry  japan semicon  IoT  mcu 

5. Scorecard of Japan's chip companies

After significant reductions in workforce, sales of fabs and the merging of design teams from different chip companies, how are Japanese chip vendors doing?

Renesas insists that it finished a rigorous restructuring effort in March. Having cut more than 14,100 people through a series of early retirement programs, Renesas today boasts a lean, mean workforce of 21,000 employees.


Figure 5: Japanese chip vendors drop in the global market.

IHS analyst Minamikawa, however, thinks it took too long for Renesas to pull this off. "We worry that good people might have already left the company. Although the company is back in the black, its lack of human and financial resources make it very tough for Renesas to cultivate the next growth opportunity."

In his analysis, Socionext has "a much better chance" of survival. Minamikawa said that Socionext's CEO is on record saying that he?s committed to spending up to one third of the company's revenue for R&D, if the teams can identify products that meet customers' needs.

Further, Socionext is more forward-looking compared to its competitors in Japan, he added. For instance, Socionext's design team for optical network chips is headquartered in the U.K. Its high-performance SoCs for servers are being developed by a U.S. design team. Socionext has already gone out of Japan's norm, by setting up those shops outside Japan, said Minamikawa.

In contrast, IC Insights' Matas says the Japanese semi industry's one bright spot, other than Sony's CMOS image sensors—is Renesas and its MCU business.

Though Renesas faces increasing pressure from NXP (and its Freescale acquisition), the Japanese company is battling to maintain its top market share position in the MCU market. He pointed out, "It remains a particularly strong player within automotive, but is fairly well-positioned to be a key player in supplying MCUs to the growing IoT market."

According to a Renesas' spokesperson, 45% of the company's MCU revenue is in automotive. The rest is generated by general-purpose MCUs.

Matas gives Sony a solid B+ for what it has already accomplished in its "asset-lite strategy" in ICs. He said, "Sony cut semiconductor capital spending, announced the sale of a 300mm fab to Toshiba (then later bought it back to make CMOS image sensors), and began outsourcing more wafer capacity to deal with seasonal demand in consumer ICs."

-Junko Yoshida
EE Times

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