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Samsung retains top spot over Intel in semiconductor market

By Ryan Morris-Reade
Wed 30 Mar 2022

Samsung has maintained its position atop the semiconductor industry in Omdia's 4Q21, while Intel has just held its top spot as the leader in annual revenues.

This is in a year that saw the industry set a new record of more than half-a-trillion dollars in revenue.

The market surpassed annual revenue of half-a-trillion dollars for the first time in 2021, according to the latest competitive analysis of the worldwide semiconductor market from Omdia. And nearly 60% of companies in the sector grew by more than 20% in revenues.

The quarterly performance review shows that Samsung maintained the top spot as the largest semiconductor company by revenue in the last quarter of last year, bringing in revenue of $19.995 billion compared to Intel's $19.976 billion. Samsung was also the largest semiconductor firm by revenue in 3Q21, taking over after Intel was the largest in 1Q21 and 2Q21.

But on an annual basis, Intel completed 2021 as the number one semiconductor company by revenue at $76.6 billion, representing 13% of all semiconductor revenue for the year. Intel's 2021 revenue growth was nearly flat from 2020, contrasted with the following top nine semiconductor firms, all of which experienced year-over-year revenue growth above 15%.

Samsung ended 2021 just behind Intel, with semiconductor revenue of $75.2 billion, representing 12.8% of all revenue for the industry. Samsung significantly closed the annual revenue gap with Intel thanks to the substantial increase in the DRAM market (up 42% in 2021) and the NAND market (up 23% in 2021). Samsung is currently the number one firm for both components.

"The highest year-on-year (YoY) revenue growth rate on record was in 2010 (34.1%), but this was a recovery year following a 10.9% decline in 2009 related to the Great Recession," says Omdia senior research analyst for the semiconductor market, Cliff Leimbach. 

"YoY growth in 2021 is significant because the prior year was not a recovery year but an above-average year with 10.4% growth. The long-term YoY growth for the semiconductor market is 6.8%."

Of the 247 companies Omdia tracks annually, 145 (59%) had yearly semiconductor revenue growth greater than 20% in 2021. The strong results from 2021 were not specific to a few of the largest semiconductor firms, but spread through the majority of players in the industry.

The last quarter of 2021 was the fifth straight quarter of record revenue for the industry, with quarterly revenue rising to $159.1 billion, up 3.6% from the previous quarter, versus the long-term historical average of 0.6% QoQ increase in semiconductor revenue.

"Demand continues to be strong in the work-from-home era brought about by the global pandemic and supply tight for many components," says Omdia chief semiconductor industry analyst, Craig Stice.

"Supply shortages throughout the semiconductor landscape resulted in rising ASPs, which helped lift revenue. The resulting strong annual revenue was significantly above the historical average, 24.2% versus 6.8%."

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