News & Analysis

The British semiconductor companies steering UK efforts

15th February 2024
Harry Fowle

Electronic Specifier explores some of the key British semiconductor companies that are steering UK efforts in the industry.

The British semiconductor industry, though not as colossal as its counterparts in the USA or Asia, boasts several pioneering companies that have carved out significant niches for themselves. These companies contribute to a wide array of sectors including automotive, consumer electronics, telecommunications, and more. Here is a closer look at some of the biggest British semiconductor companies, shedding light on their contributions to the industry and their global operations.

ARM Holdings

Perhaps the most renowned British name in the global semiconductor arena, ARM Holdings has revolutionised the way we think about mobile computing. Unlike traditional semiconductor companies that manufacture chips, ARM specialises in designing and licensing its architectures to others who then incorporate ARM's technology into their own chips. ARM's low-power processors are the backbone of a vast majority of smartphones, tablets, and an increasing number of IoT devices worldwide. Though now owned by SoftBank Group, ARM's headquarters remain in Cambridge, England, and it operates with a business model that influences semiconductor design across the globe.

Imagination Technologies

Located in Kings Langley, England, Imagination Technologies is known for its powerful graphic processing units (GPUs) and microprocessors. It plays a crucial role in providing solutions for the mobile, automotive, and IoT markets. The company's PowerVR GPUs are found in a wide range of devices from smartphones to smart TVs and VR headsets. Imagination Technologies also offers networking and Wi-Fi technology, making it a versatile player in the semiconductor industry.

Dialog Semiconductor

With its headquarters in Reading, UK, Dialog Semiconductor is at the forefront of developing integrated circuits (ICs) for power management, charging, AC/DC power conversion, and Bluetooth low energy technology. Its products are critical for mobile devices, digital cordless phones, and computing applications. Dialog's innovations are instrumental in enhancing the performance and extending the battery life of portable electronics, making them indispensable in today's power-conscious market.

CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio)

CSR, now part of Qualcomm Technologies International after its acquisition, was a pioneer in the development of Bluetooth technology. Headquartered in Cambridge, the company has been instrumental in advancing wireless communication technologies, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. CSR's innovations have facilitated the development of more connected and intelligent devices, contributing significantly to the wireless and telecommunications sectors.

IQE plc

Based in Cardiff, Wales, IQE plc is a leading global supplier of advanced wafer products and material solutions to the semiconductor industry. Its expertise lies in compound semiconductor wafers, which are essential for applications in wireless communications, advanced photonic technologies, and sensor systems. IQE's contributions are pivotal in enabling a wide range of technologies from smartphones to solar cells and LED lighting.

Oxford Instruments

With its origins rooted in Oxford University, this pioneering company has expanded its reach globally, specialising in products that enable research and development in the physical sciences. Oxford Instruments' equipment plays a crucial role in the fabrication and analysis of semiconductor devices, offering solutions for materials characterisation, advanced imaging, and precise temperature control. Their technologies are indispensable for cutting-edge research in nanotechnology, quantum computing, and materials science. Operating from its headquarters in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Oxford Instruments not only exemplifies British innovation but also illustrates the country's global influence in pushing the boundaries of semiconductor technology and scientific research. Through its commitment to innovation, Oxford Instruments helps drive the semiconductor industry forward, enabling the development of next-generation electronics and advanced materials.

Global presence and influence

These British semiconductor companies not only contribute significantly to the UK's technological landscape but also have a profound impact on the global stage. Through a combination of innovation, design expertise, and strategic partnerships, they have established themselves as leaders in their respective fields. Their operations span across continents, with research and development centres, sales offices, and manufacturing plants located in Europe, Asia, and North America. This global footprint not only facilitates the growth of the British semiconductor industry but also ensures their technologies and products play a vital role in advancing the global tech ecosystem.


The British semiconductor industry, led by these pioneering companies, continues to influence technological advancements worldwide. Their contributions range from foundational technologies like ARM's processor architectures to the leading-edge compound semiconductor materials provided by IQE plc. As the demand for smarter, more efficient electronics grows, the innovations from these British companies will undoubtedly remain at the heart of the global semiconductor industry.

Product Spotlight

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news
© Copyright 2024 Electronic Specifier