Realtek Semiconductor Corp. (Traditional Chinese: 瑞昱半導體股份有限公司), a fabless IC design house situated in the Hsinchu Science Park, Hsinchu, Taiwan, was founded in October 1987, and subsequently approved as a listed company on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in 1998. As of March 31 2005, Realtek employs 970 people, of which more than 700 with research and development expertise.
Realtek manufactures and sells a wide variety of products throughout the world, and its product lines can be broadly categorized into two subdivisions: Communications Network ICs, and Computer Peripheral and Multimedia ICs. Included among the communications network IC products manufactured and provided by Realtek are: network interface controllers (both the traditional 10/100M Ethernet controllers and the more advanced Gigabit Ethernet controllers), physical layer controllers (PHYceivers), network switch controllers, gateway controllers, wireless LAN ICs, as well as ADSL router controllers. In particular, the RTL8139 series 10/100M Fast Ethernet controllers met their height during the late 90’s, and continued to take up a significant, and eventually predominant share in the worldwide market in the following years. Those devices categorized as Realtek’s computer peripheral and multimedia IC products consist of the traditional AC97 audio codecs, the High Definition audio codecs, card reader controllers, clock generators, IEEE 1394 ICs, and LCD controllers.
The most notable Realtek products are 10/100M Ethernet controllers, with a global market share of 70% as of 2003, and AC97 audio codecs, where Realtek's market share is 50%, primarily concentrated in the integrated OEM on-board audio market segment. Presently the ALC850 and RTL8139 are particular OEM favorites, offering low prices, and basic feature sets. RTL8139-based NICs are dubbed "crab cards" in Taiwan, alluding to the crab-like appearance of the Realtek logo.
It has been announced or projected, on several different occasions, that Realtek will, in the future, focus its R&D resources in the field of digital television technologies, as well as more advanced wireless communications technologies such as ultra-wide band (UWB) communications and the yet-to-be-realized 802.11n standard. It seems clear that Realtek has been setting its eye on pursuing the Holy Grail of the anticipated new applications and needs derived from the concept of Digital Home proposed by Intel.