Samsung, Renesas gain ground on Intel in semiconductor ranking

El Segundo (CA) - Intel defended its position as largest chip manufacturer worldwide in the first quarter of this year. Samsung edged closer to Intel, but Renesas and Toshiba were the only large semiconductor firms to post significant sequential growth and shook up the ranking, according to market research firm iSuppli.

Intel has pretty much marked its territory in the global semiconductor market and mainly deals with Samsung as major growing competitor. But once in a while, other firms surface and post unexpected gains in the industry. In a traditionally weak period for the global semiconductor industry, Japanese chip suppliers Renesas Technology and Toshiba bucked the trend and became the number three and five in the iSuppli ranking.

Semiconductor revenue at Renesas rose to $2.5 billion in the first quarter, up 10 percent from $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter. The firm's strong performance relative to its close competitors allowed it to rise to the number-three rank, up from number six in the fourth quarter.

Toshiba's chip revenue expanded to $2.3 billion, up 8.6 percent from $2.1 billion in the previous quarter. The company rose to the number-five rank in the first quarter, up from seventh place in the fourth quarter.

Intel kept its dominating position with sales of $8.7 billion (down 2.7 percent sequentially) and a markets hare of 15.2 percent. Samsung's revenues decreased 1.3 percent to $4.2 billion and put its market share at 7.3 percent.

The healthy results for Renesas and Toshiba contrasted sharply with the overall weak performance of the semiconductor industry in the first quarter. Global semiconductor revenue in the first quarter declined by 3.1 percent to $57.0 billion, down from $58.8 billion in the fourth quarter, according to iSuppli. Such a seasonal sales decline is typical in the global semiconductor industry, which usually experiences a slowdown at the start of the year after the peak holiday period in the fourth quarter.

Illustrating this seasonal weakness, only three of the top-10 semiconductor suppliers achieved sequential revenue growth in the first quarter, with Freescale Semiconductor being the third company. Freescale's revenue rose to $1.4 billion in the first quarter, up a mild 1.2 percent from $1.38 billion in the fourth quarter.