Coasia said on Wednesday had the most number of engineers among its competitors within Samsung Foundry’s ecosystem.
The company, combined with its subsidiary Coasia Semi, had 210 engineers, a Coasia spokesperson said.
By contrast, Samsung Foundry’s other design house partners Hanatec, Alpha Holdings, Gaon Chips and ADTechnology had 100, 80, 90 and 130 engineers, respectively.
The Coasia spokesperson said the company plans to expand the number of engineers from Taiwan and the US this year so that it will have 400 engineers by the end of the year.
Semiconductor design houses are the bridge between fabless companies that design chip and foundry companies such as Samsung that manufacture the chips. After a fabless company designs the chip architecture code, the design house creates the wafer mask and test them to fit the production process of the foundry company. Samsung Electronics previously used design houses as subcontracts. After Samsung Foundry became its own business in May 2017, it expanded the role of design houses.
A design house that has been registered as Samsung design solution partner (DSP) can buy wafers from Samsung Foundry and sell them back to the fabless company. In effect, they play the role of sales distributor, which has more value than simply subcontracting work. A total of 14 companies, including seven based in South Korea which are Hantec, Alpha Holdings, Gaon Chips, Argo, Sesol Semiconductor and AD Technology, are registered as DSP to Samsung Foundry. Coasia Semi became a DSP in April last year.
Samsung Foundry took after the relationship between TSMC and Global Unichip Corporation (GUC). GUC has around 600 design engineers as is an official design house partner to TSMC. GUC handles the most work from fabless, besides large ones. “Samsung Foundry is encouraging design house partners to have the same number of engineers as GUC,” a person familiar with the matter said. “The DSP that has the most engineer will likely win more orders.”
The Coasia spokesperson said over half of its engineers were from Taiwan as there as there was a shortage of engineers with at least a Master’s degree in South Korea. The company could procure Taiwanese talent as its inaugural company Coasia Electronics is listed in Taiwan, they said. Coasia operates design centers in South Korea, China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Coasia stressed that it also many global customer networks through Coasia Electronics, which distributes Samsung Electronics components to Greater China. Coasia had signed a collaboration agreement with Hantec to share each other’s talents.
DS Investment Securities said Coasia won two contracts from overseas companies last year and it is handling over 10 projects this year. Half of its projects were from US companies, which proves its technology prowess. The e-cigarette chip it designed and supplied in turn-key for a customer will begin production in June this year, the securities said.