According to IC Insights, the top 17 semiconductor companies are bound for a combined $460 billion figure in Integrated Circuits (IC) sales for 2021. All 17 companies have now surpassed the $10 billion mark, but like in most markets, the top companies typically hold the vast majority of sales. Intel, Samsung and TSMC are projected to account for around $210 billion of the industry's total sales revenue, and Intel seems to have no chance but to hand the semiconductor crown to Samsung.
In fact, Intel is the only player in the top 17 not posting a positive gain for 2021, instead posting a 1% contraction in sales. That translates to about $800 million less money in the bank. The company has been facing supply issues for longer than other manufacturers, mostly related to the various delays with its 10nm and 7nm products. The company even started porting some of its semiconductor designs (e.g. Comet Lake) to less technologically-advanced production nodes. The fact that the company took so long to ramp up its 10nm SuperFin technology also meant that a highly competent AMD could wreak havoc with Intel's portfolio through solid execution — and more than a little help from TSMC's expertise.
AMD itself, which has been executing on its roadmaps with a cadence that once would have done Intel proud, is expected to post an incredible 65% revenue growth compared to its 2020 results, going from $9.7 billion in 2020 to $16 billion, and breaking the $10 billion milestone. NXP and Analog Devices will also seemingly manage to hit that mark. MediaTek comes in behind AMD with its also tremendous 60% growth, buoyed by high-performance Arm designs and by the company's 5G portfolio.
A bad year for consumers and for semiconductor supplies often translates into a very good year for the manufacturers that make them, as whenever demand outstrips supply, there's an opportunity to increase the average selling price (ASP) and profits. But not everything begins and ends with supply; a strong product portfolio compared to the prospective competition is a driving force behind growth. While Intel's Alder Lake did a good job on almost eliminating the gap between AMD's and Intel's offerings, it may have come too late to compensate for a relatively lackluster portfolio for the majority of 2021.
With the market growing at an incredibly accelerated pace, buoyed by 5G rollouts across the globe and the incredible demand coming from the HPC, business, and consumer sectors, Samsung is poised to continue growing its business at an accelerated pace. It's 34% growth for 2021 is nothing to scoff at, and is the highest in the industry in pure dollar terms. The company's NAND and DRAM divisions made a killing in 2021, as NAND and DRAM requirements have only increased as technology has advanced, and higher volumes naturally translate into a boost in sales. All in all, Samsung added a cool $20 billion to the company's $58 billion IC sales for 2020.
As 2021 wraps up, all eyes look toward 2022. Intel obviously hopes to regain some of its lost revenue, though it has a ways to go before it can retake the crown from Samsung.
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Francisco Pires is a freelance news writer for Tom's Hardware with a soft side for quantum computing.
Intel lost a bunch of Apple business in 2021 ... on both cellphone modems and the pc cpus; yet they managed to make up for the lost business, perhaps due to the large growth in IOT, laptop sales, fpgas. 2022 should bring more gains with Sapphire Rapids, Alder Lake and GPU new products ramping. Intel also projects bigger ramps in their 5G infrastructure chips as that industry expands.Reply