Infineon Technologies of Germany was the leading supplier of smart card chips in 2003, according to a global survey by Card Technology magazine.
In the sophisticated microprocessor chips used in mobile phone, banking and identification cards, Infineon led the way with 389 million chips sold, a 36% increase over 2002. Renesas of Japan followed with 201 million microprocessor chips, followed by French-Italian supplier STMicroelectronics 185 million, Philips of the Netherlands 158 million, U.S.-based Atmel 135 million, Samsung of South Korea 114 million and China-based Datang 35 million. In memory chips, which are mostly used for prepaid phone cards and transit cards, Infineon took the top spot with 782 million chips, followed by STMicroelectronics 141 million, Philips 60 million, Atmel 26 million and France-based Inside Contactless 18 million. Demand for smart card chips grew sharply in the second half of 2003, led by growth in the subscriber identity module (SIM) cards for mobile phones. SIM card chip shipments reached 660 million units in 2003, almost a 50% growth from the year before. Global demand for smart card chips remains strong and some smart card vendors are beginning to report delays in receiving chips and a firming up of chip prices, which have been falling the past few years.