LG To Be Major Fabless Chipmaker By CES 2013?

The Korea Times reports that LG is expected to become a major fabless chip maker by CES 2013 in January. The company is currently hiring a number of additional chip designers to beef up its efforts, and has just wrapped up development of its latest SoC to be used in web-based TVs. This chip will be on display at the Las Vegas tradeshow in just over a month, a company exec said.

For the uninitiated just tuning in, "fabless" means that the company doesn't have the in-house means to fabricate its own chips but, like Nvidia and its Tegra line of SoCs, relies on a third-party foundry chipmaker. The latest web-connected HDTV SoC designed by LG is codenamed "H13", short for (H)ome Entertainment Division 20(13). It will be manufactured by Taiwan's TSMC using a finer 28-nm processing technology.

LG chief executive Koo Bon-joon said on Friday that he wants the company to be more independent, to have more dignity in the parts and finished-goods businesses by using its own chips. So far, the combined number of in-house chip designers for smartphones and web-connected TVs have exceeded 900, he said.

"This is really impressive because LG Electronics spends more for core technologies such as chip designs to gain more leverage and to lower parts supplement risks," an exec at one of LG's local suppliers told The Korea Times. "In a real sense, LG has already become the nation’s top fabless chipmaker in terms of workforces."

LG is also reportedly close to developing its own in-house mobile application processor for smartphones. According to Korea Times, around 550 chip designers have been assigned to the project. So far the details are scarce (although more may be revealed at CES 2013), but an unnamed executive said that LG is investing more for in-house technologies "for balanced business structures regardless of market situation".

Currently LG is only offering its branded-chips within its own products – they are not being sold to other manufacturers like Motorola and Samsung. But that could change in the future as the company seeks new avenues of revenue and to fully rival Samsung Electronics and Broadcom.

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