Tag Archives: North America

Reader question: Why is the data converter market dominated by six US companies?

Who’s making a splash in the data converter market?

The Q&A section on this blog might not be too visible, but as you can see here, it actually works: steve asks this interesting question:

Why the $3B data converter market is dominated by the six US companies: ADI, TI, Maxim, LinearTech, National Semi and Intersil. Have any one heard of any data converter companies out of the US?

… and I felt it deserved a dedicated post where you can all have your say. So, what do you all think? And what other companies have you heard of? Do you even agree with steve that it is these six that dominate? If not, who are?

Edit: I’ll be working on the list(s) below, trying to get it as complete as I possibly can. With your help it should work. Just keep suggesting data converter companies to add here. My proposal is to limit the list to companies that provide stand-alone data converters and/or data converter IP. Companies providing data-converter related design services and expert consulting could of course be interesting too, and perhaps go into a second list. [That way I can include my own company, ADMS Design too 😉 ]

Edit 2011-04-09: As you might have heard, Texas Instruments is to acquire National Semiconductor. Read more about it here.

And then there were only five … 😉

The “Big Six”

As the question was asked by steve, we get the following list of six US data converter companies – dubbed the “Big Six” by jjwikner below – that (supposedly) dominate the ADC and DAC market. Here in alphabetical order:

The list is not written in stone. Have your say below. Should it be the big 3, 4, 5, 7 instead? How about data converter IP dominance – is that a completely different list of companies? And don’t forget the original question: why are all of these companies US-based? Something in the US water? Engineering tradition? Business culture? Choice of target applications? Are the leading Asian companies keeping their designs for in-house use, or did they simply bypass the stand-alone converter phase altogether? Are they now positioning themselves for the inevitable embedded data converter era by developing IP blocks for SoC designs?

The complete list?

To the best of my knowledge, and with the kind help of my blog readers, this is the “complete list” (*) of companies offering data converter IP or stand-alone parts. Again, in alphabetical order, and with the Big Six included:

(*) Allow the list a reasonable settling time constant, and please send me an email or post a comment below if you know of any company not included in the list, or have any other remarks.

NB: I have not necessarily made an assessment of the individual companies included in the list, and the list is therefore no statement of the quality or suitability of the products/IP offered for a particular purpose, nor an endorsement of the company itself.

The list seems very US and Euro-centric, but that’s my current horizon. I’m sure there must be some Asian companies out there. Scientific activity actually suggests that Asia is going to take over this business eventually. So, please enlighten me! Where are those Asian companies?

Is A/D-converter research in Europe about to die?

Number of scientific publications reporting measured A/D-converter implementations –by first-author affiliation location.

Is A/D-converter research in Europe about to die … or has it just gone into hiding? Well, looking at the publication statistics for measured ADC implementations justifies the question. In the overall publication count, there aren’t any signs of concern – Europe still has an accumulated 27% after North America’s 50% and before Asia’s 23% of all publications, as shown in a previous post. But Europe has lost a significant amount of wind in the last five years, which is obvious from the year-by-year stats shown in the plot. It seems that North America is maintaining its leadership in publications, but that Asia picked up some serious speed by 2006, while research publications from affiliations in Europe simultaneously dropped dramatically. North America and Asia both shows a steady increase, and note also that Asia has a steeper slope than North America. Europe is the only region that appears to level out at a lower publication rate. Why?

  • Is Europe lacking the financial or intellectual muscle required to compete with North America and Asia?
  • Is it a European view that the A/D-converter is a “commodity” that is best supplied from elsewhere and nothing of interest remains to be researched?
  • Did European research “go into hiding” within companies and institutions that put a lid on their research results for commercial reasons? In that case, is the lack of publications merely a sign of good “industrial health”?
  • Or has Europe simply lost its vision for ADC research?

What do you think? Share your thoughts and insights by leaving a comment or by taking the poll (multiple choices allowed).


A few comments and remarks:

  • The underlying data set is the same as in [1], but data for 2010 have been excluded since the results for 2010 are not settled yet. The main sources surveyed are listed here.
  • Data and graphics is from a large ADC technology and research survey, and is courtesy of ADMS Design AB. (See also the ADMS Design pressroom for other results from the survey)
  • Since I know a lot of people in Sweden and Europe that are active in ADC research, these results were surprising to me. My impression is (still) that there’s a lot going on in Europe, and therefore I would have expected all regions of the world to be increasing their publication rate.
  • Obviously there are a lot of things to be said about how well a simple measure like “paper count” detects the research activity of a region. Nevertheless, there is a clearly different trend for Europe, and it does raise some interesting questions about what’s going on.

See also …

ADC Survey Data


[1] B. E. Jonsson, “A survey of A/D-converter performance evolution”, accepted for presentation, IEEE Int. Conf. Electronics Circ. Syst. (ICECS), Athens, Greece, Dec., 2010.