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Taiwan Surge For LEDs And GaAs Components

Taiwanese LED makers see sales jump 16% thanks to the Beijing Olympics and the Taiwan government's three-year plan for traffic lights, while Win Semiconductors is now ranked among the world's top ten GaAs suppliers.

LED chip manufacturers in Taiwan enjoyed a surge in sales during the first half of 2008, with organizers of the Beijing Olympics ordering tens of thousands of emitters and helping to drive a 16.1% year-on-year increase to $771.3 million.

That s according to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), which promotes Taiwanese business. It said at least 44,000 LED-based lamps featured in Beijing s high-profile Water Cube building, which hosted the Olympics swimming and diving competitions.

While US and German suppliers Cree and Osram supplied a large proportion of the chips used to light up the Water Cube, the Taiwanese firm Opto Tech supplied LEDs for some gigantic video screens.

Some 44,000 LED lamps are said to have featured in a 147 m x 36 m screen, while the venue also boasted a 200 m x 30 m LED display.

With the Olympics now over and increasing worries over the state of the global economy, rumors of slackening demand and of delayed MOCVD tool shipments to Taiwanese LED makers have begun to circulate.

But, according to TAITRA, demand will now be bolstered by the Taiwan government itself, which is aiming to boost the domestic LED industry by replacing all of the incandescent lamps used in the island's traffic lights with solid-state equivalents within three years.

With new companies such as Genesis Photonics ordering multiple MOCVD reactor systems recently, and strong suggestions that LCD flat-panel giants AU Optronics and Chi Mei Optoelectronics are also set to enter volume LED production, there are signs that overcapacity may return to the Taiwanese supply chain.

Over on the RF side of the compound semiconductor business, the GaAs foundry Win Semiconductor is certainly enjoying a surge in sales of its own.

According to independent analysis from Strategy Analytics, the Taiwanese firm broke into the top-ten list of GaAs device manufacturers in 2007 and is catching up with the world s leading GaAs foundry, US-based TriQuint Semiconductor.

"Win Semiconductor is pulling away from other pure play foundry companies and will increasingly challenge TriQuint for the number one spot," said Asif Anwar, the GaAs industry specialist at Strategy Analytics.

Although Japan s Eudyna Devices also broke into that top-ten list, it is TriQuint, RF Micro Devices and Skyworks Solutions who remain at the helm of the GaAs industry.

Those three led the GaAs industry s 17% charge in 2007, with Anwar now valuing the sector at $3.6 billion overall.

The top-three manufacturers dominate the GaAs scene, with a combined market share of 50%.

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