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Intel comfortably conquers chip market in 2011

All your transistors are belong to us

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The chip heads at market watcher IHS iSuppli have tallied the sales figures for the world's semiconductor makers for 2011, and guess what? Intel won while just about everybody else, with a few notable exceptions, lost some ground.

iSuppli said in a statement that worldwide chip revenues rose by 1.3 per cent in 2011, to $311.4bn. That's a little shy of the $313.3bn that iSuppli had been projecting back in December, which would have worked out to 1.9 per cent growth for the year.

While Samsung Electronics had been gaining on Intel in recent years, Chipzilla's pretty decent PC chip sales in the first half of last year, server chip sales that rose throughout 2011, the acquisition of Infineon's wireless biz, and the strong uptake of NAND flash memory all helped Intel widen the gap considerably.

Intel ranked first among chip makers, with $48.7bn in sales, up 20.6 percent, compared to Samsung's $28.6bn, up only six-tenths of a point. Texas Instruments ranked third with just under $14bn in sales, up 7.5 per cent, and Toshiba was fourth in the rankings with $12.7bn, down 2.2 per cent. Renesas Electronics had a 10.5 per cent decline to $10.6bn, according to iSuppli.

Among the top 25 vendors ranked by iSuppli, the big winners were Qualcomm, rising twice as fast as Intel at a 41.6 per cent growth rate to $10.2bn, and Broadcom, up 7.2 per cent to $7.16bn. Qualcomm rose thanks to a combination of growth and acquisitions and was not even the rocket among the semiconductor makers.

This time around, among the top 25 chip makers, this honor went to ON Semiconductor - a maker of ASICs, power controllers, voltage regulators and all kinds of discrete semiconductors - which shot up 49.6 per cent to $3.43bn. Nichia, a maker of light emitting diodes, was also noteworthy because of its 34.1 per cent growth to $2.94bn.

Advanced Micro Devices was up only 1.2 per cent to $6.44bn, and memory makers Hynix, Micron Technology, and Elpida all stomached big revenue losses last year as the memory market collapsed.

Intel had the largest share of the worldwide semiconductor pie it has seen in ten years, according to Dale Ford, head of electronics and semiconductor research for iSuppli.

Interestingly, if you take Intel out of the numbers, you get $267.1bn in revenue for everyone else, and their aggregate sales contracted by 1.7 per cent compared to 2010. iSuppli said that of the 302 chip makers that it tracks, only 159 of them (or a little more than half) grew their sales in 2011.

If you look at it by geographic region, those chip makers based on the Americas did the best, with an average growth of 7.5 per cent across all vendors last year (thanks in large part to Intel, Qualcomm, and Broadcom), while those based on Japan did the worst, falling as a group by 7.2 per cent (thanks in large part to the earthquake and tsunami a year ago). ®

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