Besides being a leading company in analog & mixed-signal/digital IC design in Taiwan, Weltrend, today, has a wholly-owned subsidiary that offers value-added electronic component distribution services for various internationally recognized brands.
Leading from the Front
Weltrend's expertise in mixed-signal technology—with both microcontroller (MCU) and power domain knowledge— is a combination that is rare in the industry. "MCU companies don't have the domain knowledge in power systems for integrating MCU with power components. On the other hand, power IC companies don’t have the resources or the domain knowledge on protocol and firmware like MCU company. We are different because of our unique expertise in mixed-signal technology,” asserts Sam Lin, the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Weltrend Semiconductor.
"We are different because our expertise is mixed-signal technology in both MCU and power system domain knowledge"
Being the driving force of the company, Lin leverages his 40 years of business expertise in the semiconductor industry of Taiwan to lead Weltrend in the right direction. By addressing the various challenges raised by obsolete technologies, costs, and shifting consumer preferences, Weltrend—under Lin’s leadership—has delivered robust products that captured number-one market share in certain application markets. Whether it’s the IC’s for CRT monitor in the 90s and LCD TV in the 2000s, switching power supply for PC/game console/server in mid-2000s, or the USB Type-C with Power Delivery (USB PD) adapters started in 2015— Weltrend’s products have always been a trendsetter.
Powering the Needs of Today and Tomorrow
So what keeps Weltrend ahead in a highly competitive market where frequent price-reduction of chips has become normality? Many chip vendors—especially the companies from China—are also providing customers with somewhat fair-quality ICs at very competitive prices. “We work closely with foundries like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Taiwan-based OSAT partners for cutting down the costs and keeping quality top-notch,” says Lin.
We stood still throughout the ups-and- downs of the industry cycles in the past 30 years with solid customer partnership, stable financial structure, a management team with high integrity, and innovative products
With a broad digital/ analog IP portfolio, Weltrend has accumulated enormous technical expertise and has expanded its product line to advanced applications spanning across advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), data security, vital sign detection, digital power, and wireless charging.
Weltrend’s broad product portfolio encompasses power management and analog ICs, display ICs, consumer ICs, and general-purpose ICs.
• Power Management and Analog ICs
Weltrend has a series of USB power and charging port controllers that support multiple fast charge protocols in the market. They target power supplies such as car chargers, power banks, adapters, and dongles. The company has been a market leader in supervisor ICs for Switching Power Supplies (SPS) for desktop PCs/game consoles/servers since the mid-2000s. In 2015, Weltrend entered the fast-growing USB Type-C market with USB PD controller on the power source side for fast charging tablet/smartphone power adapters. The controllers are widely adopted by global OEMs and currently captures no. 1 market share. As USB PD requires both domain knowledge in power and MCU (protocol firmware)— two areas of expertise that Weltrend has—the company is able to provide the most competitive products with a high level of integration and firmware support. Often, Weltrend’s FAEs help customers to interface with the device makers directly for debugging on compliance and interoperability.
• Display ICs
Weltrends’ state of the art display ICs find its application across LCD TVs, projectors as well as various A/V products. One great example of this is their power-saving MCU for Samsung TVs. The story goes back to 2006 when Samsung wanted to cut the TV standby power under 0.1W to emphasize its green-energy concept. Their existing TV SoC consumed too much power in the standby mode, making the requirement a highly impossible task. Weltrend cooperated with Samsung to develop a companion chip which could not only meet the standby power consumption criteria but also support rich TV-related functions such as DVI/HDMI detection and CEC. The chip enabled the so-called one-touch function, where users could turn on the TV, DVD player, and set-top-box simultaneously by just touching one button. Lin asserts that these series of chips were undoubtedly a very successful product line of Weltrend and contributed to Samsung becoming the worldwide No.1 LCD TV maker. Weltrend has accumulatively shipped over 200M pieces of these chips to Samsung and is still adopted in Samsung’s high-end TV products.
• Consumer ICs
Various consumer electronics companies use Weltrend’s consumer MCU series. These ICs have a wide variety of applications including gamepads, heart-rate monitoring for wristband/ smartwatch/earbuds, home appliances, toys, glucose meter, and blood pressure meter. Not only these, they even find uses across payment-related products such as Magnetic Stripe Reader (MSR) decoder, Smart Card Interface IC, and QR/Bar Code Reader IC for Point-of-Sale (POS) machines and terminals.
Delivering the Experience
Weltrend’s products have gained broad acceptance from customers globally due to their quality, team expertise, and top-notch development and testing infrastructures. One such success story is of an automotive tier-1 customer whose end-customer was a Japanese carmaker. Equipping vehicles with powerful electronic devices, especially smart cameras that perform ADAS functions to assist drivers is a big trend in the automotive industry today. But, traditionally, automotive tier-1s lack the expertise on the electronic side, especially dealing with the smart camera system, where they not only need to perform the installation and calibration but also do it efficiently and smoothly in the mass production stage. “When we developed the Around View Monitors (AVM)/ADAS chips, we had already foreseen these issues. We established an environment including a demo car in the company itself, where we perform the camera installation/calibration, on-road ADAS algorithm test, and mass production tooling setup and calibration,” explains Lin. With this, Weltrend assisted the automotive tier-1 client in finishing their project and rolling out new products efficiently, on time.
Success stories like these are powered by Weltrend’s commitment to invest heavily in research and development, and their partnerships. The company aims to continue on the path and maintain its leadership in both power and non-power segments. “We are expanding our fast charge product offerings from wired to wireless by partnering with Qualcomm on Quick ChargeTM for wireless power,” says Lin. On the non-power side, Weltrend plans to explore in AI SoC. The focus will be on edge inference, emphasized on high efficiency and low power consumer ICs for applications including the smart camera, automotive ADAS up to Level2+, surveillance, consumer, IoT, and intelligent robots.
These efforts will further solidify Weltrend’s position as a leader in the market. The results are already visible. Weltrend has seen three years of consecutive growth since 2016, with 2018’s revenues (~US$85m) and shipments (>194m pieces) reaching the company’s historical high. These figures are also powering Lin’s vision for Weltrend: “To build a great company which is profitable, world-class in certain semiconductor markets, caring about people and environment, and fun to work at.”