Samsung passes Intel to become world’s largest semi supplier

25th August 2021
Kiera Sowery

IC Insights released its August Update to the 2021 McClean Report this month, which includes a review of the top 25 semiconductor sales leaders for 2Q21. The top ten suppliers for 2Q are covered in this research bulletin.

Semiconductor sales include ICs and optoelectronics, sensors, and discretes (O-S-Ds).  The top-ten semiconductor sales leaders for 2Q21 are shown below. The list includes six suppliers headquartered in the US, two in South Korea, and two in Taiwan and consists of four fabless companies (Qualcomm, Nvidia, Broadcom, and MediaTek) and one pure-play foundry (TSMC).

It took $4.3bn in semiconductor sales to be ranked as a top-ten semiconductor supplier in 2Q21. Collectively, these ten suppliers saw their 2Q21 sales rise ten percent to $95.5bn, outpacing the eight percent growth for the total semiconductor industry.

Driven by surging demand and rising prices for DRAM and flash memory, Samsung saw its total semiconductor sales increase 19% in 2Q21 to $20.3bn, moving it past Intel and into first place to become the world’s largest semiconductor supplier for 2Q21.

Samsung was previously ranked as the top semiconductor supplier through much of 2017 and 2018 when the memory market experienced its last cyclical upturn.  And, the company last enjoyed quarterly sales in excess of $20bn in 2018 during the peak of the previous memory upturn. Demand for memory ICs is forecast to continue this quarter with Samsung’s semiconductor sales projected to rise another ten percent to $22.3bn in 3Q21, further widening its lead over Intel.

Also moving up in the 2Q ranking were Nvidia and MediaTek.  Nvidia’s 14% second quarter increase came on the strength of continued growth of the company’s important data center and gaming segments. Meanwhile, MediaTek’s sales increased 17% in 2Q21, continuing an impressive sales upturn driven by strong demand for 5G smartphones and consumer multimedia systems that first ramped up during the COVID-19 virus pandemic in 2020. Memory suppliers SK Hynix and Micron also enjoyed strong quarterly sales increases of 21% and 16%, respectively, though their positions in the top-ten remained unchanged.

Meanwhile, sales at Intel, TSMC, and Qualcomm grew by a rather unremarkable three percent in 2Q21, and Broadcom’s sales increased only one percent.  Intel’s semiconductor sales were $19.3bn in 2Q21, far greater than most others but its three percent growth rate was far smaller than some of its key rivals. (AMD was ranked just outside the top-ten list with sales that increased 12% in 2Q21).

The top ten semiconductor companies’ also released their sales guidance for 3Q21 and these figures are presented in the August Update. Among the top-ten companies, 3Q21 sales expectations range from minus three percent at Intel to +12% for Qualcomm. These expectations continue to support IC Insights’ forecast for at least a 23% increase in the worldwide semiconductor market this year.

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