TSMC is now the world's largest semiconductor maker by revenue, beating Intel and Samsung: Analyst

TSMC
(Image credit: TSMC)

TSMC has been the world's number one contract maker of chips for years, but its earnings have long been significantly below those of Intel and other leading memory makers. However, a lot has changed in recent years, and in 2023, TSMC's revenue exceeded that of Intel and Samsung, as observed by Dan Nystedt, a Taiwan-based analyst. TSMC also leads in operating profit, showing that the company continues to rake in cash as the world's foundry. 

(Image credit: Dan Nystedt/Twitter)

Nystedt compiled the numbers from calendar-year revenue figures, not fiscal-year performance. Also, it's important to note that these figures also include revenue from other sources within each company and aren't comprised solely of income from manufacturing silicon.

As Nystedt notes, TSMC is now the largest chip semiconductor company in the world of any kind. Despite a challenging year, TSMC earned $69.3 billion in 2023, significantly more than Intel, whose revenue dropped to $54.23 billion, and Samsung, which earned $50.99 billion. Based on fourth-quarter guidance, Nvidia could end 2023 with revenue of over $58 billion, the analyst estimates, so it will outperform both Intel and Samsung, but not TSMC. 

TSMC is a newcomer to this top spot, as historically, it has lagged Intel and Samsung despite being the world's largest foundry. TSMC's revenue began to increase rapidly in 2020, largely because of the coronavirus pandemic and increased demand for everything digital, including PCs and game consoles. And since modern production nodes are generally expensive to use, TSMC's revenues are indeed increasing. Since TSMC has pulled ahead of Intel and Samsung in terms of process technologies, it can enjoy selling its services at a hefty premium, which definitely helps with revenue.

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Intel led the semiconductor industry for decades, from 1992, when it dethroned NEC, to 2017, when Samsung outperformed it by a significant margin. But Samsung's semiconductor revenue depends on 3D NAND and DRAM memory prices, whereas Intel's revenue largely consists of logic products, such as CPUs for client and data center applications. Additionally, at this point, many of Intel's products are made by TSMC. 

It is noteworthy that TSMC does not develop its own processors but instead makes some of the world's most advanced chips for fabless developers, such as AMD, Apple, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and many others. Apparently, this formula is working very well, at least for now. What remains to be seen is whether Intel will manage to reclaim the crown years down the road when its Intel Foundry Services division starts taking a piece of TSMC's market by getting orders to make chips using its leading-edge process technology.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • fisherg
    The future of the global economy rests on one tiny island a short distance off the coast of mainland China .......

    A horrific situation.........


    Hurry up Intel....get those foundries built ...........but .............it may be too late.....
    Reply
  • redgarl
    fisherg said:
    The future of the global economy rests on one tiny island a short distance off the coast of mainland China .......

    A horrific situation.........


    Hurry up Intel....get those foundries built ...........but .............it may be too late.....
    TSMC have subsidiaries and investment outside Taiwan.

    And, on the contrary, Taiwan remain a world contributor because China cannot do anything against them because this will disrupt the world supply chain for semiconductors.

    As for Intel, they don't even use their own fabs for their own products... way to go...
    Reply
  • JTWrenn
    TSMC is a juggernaut for sure but I feel like adding Nvidia to the header is a little odd. They are not in the chip making business the same way Intel, Samsung, and TSMC are. They are a fabless chip maker so seems a little odd.
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    fisherg said:
    The future of the global economy rests on one tiny island a short distance off the coast of mainland China .......

    A horrific situation.........


    Hurry up Intel....get those foundries built ...........but .............it may be too late.....
    The Golden/Silicon Goose that is TSMC sits in Taiwan.

    It CANNOT be moved, it WILL NOT be moved.

    Time for the US' mighty military to do their job as "World Police" and protect Taiwan.

    Silicon is worth more than Oil & Gold combined, it has more importance and will determine the future of the Western Economy.
    Reply
  • Gururu
    I love Taiwan but the U.S. and Europe never should have let TSMC rise to this status. Do you think China would let Cuba maintain so much of its IP?
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    Gururu said:
    I love Taiwan but the U.S. and Europe never should have let TSMC rise to this status. Do you think China would let Cuba maintain so much of its IP?
    You don't get to decide, Taiwan worked for it's #1 SemiConductor Manufacturing player spot; they weren't always #1, they had to scratch / claw for it.
    Reply
  • magbarn
    redgarl said:
    TSMC have subsidiaries and investment outside Taiwan.

    And, on the contrary, Taiwan remain a world contributor because China cannot do anything against them because this will disrupt the world supply chain for semiconductors.

    As for Intel, they don't even use their own fabs for their own products... way to go...
    Doesn't TSMC reserve their most advanced processes like 3 and 5nm for Taiwan only? Who knows if/when that AZ fab will ever come online.
    Reply
  • Gururu
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    You don't get to decide, Taiwan worked for it's #1 SemiConductor Manufacturing player spot; they weren't always #1, they had to scratch / claw for it.
    I’m not deciding, I’m being an armchair quarterback like everyone else.
    Reply
  • thestryker
    TSMC's primary business hasn't seen the same type of downturn as the other two and the AI boom positively impacts them a lot more so this isn't particularly surprising news.
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    You don't get to decide, Taiwan worked for it's #1 SemiConductor Manufacturing player spot; they weren't always #1, they had to scratch / claw for it.
    Taiwan itself literally made it happen while every other world government stood by and changed nothing about how they supported fabrication. TSMC is a fantastic company and its current success is due to good business decisions and great engineers, but one cannot pretend that they were some sort of plucky upstart.
    magbarn said:
    Doesn't TSMC reserve their most advanced processes like 3 and 5nm for Taiwan only? Who knows if/when that AZ fab will ever come online.
    So far yes all of their leading edge fabs are in Taiwan and they've backed away from plans to expand that.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    Enjoy the view while it lasts. Tis a fleeting spot.
    Reply