Data Centre

Samsung topples Intel as semiconductor top dog, but lead 'literally built on sand'

Sure about that?

By Chris Mellor

20 SHARE

Gartner beancounters say price rises driven by memory shortages propelled Samsung into the lead based on semiconductor vendor revenue, vaulting past Intel and its CPUs.

Gartner research VP Andrew Norwood said: "The largest memory supplier, Samsung Electronics, gained the most market share and took the No. 1 position from Intel – the first time Intel has been toppled since 1992. Memory accounted for more than two-thirds of all semiconductor revenue growth in 2017, and became the largest semiconductor category."

DRAM prices rose 44 per cent from 2016 to 2017, and NAND flash prices went up 17 per cent year-over-year for the first time.

A Gartner table provides the numeric nitty-gritty:

Charting the revenues gives a quick insight into the relative vendor positions:

Samsung and Intel revenues outstrip those of any other single vendor. What's also noticeable is that the "Others" category is way larger than any single vendor amount.

All the flash vendors saw good revenue growth rates in 2017, with Western Digital standing out with its 120 per cent rise.

Norwood suggests Samsung's lead over Intel might be short-lived: "Samsung's lead is literally built on sand, in the form of memory silicon. Memory pricing will weaken in 2018, initially for NAND flash and then DRAM in 2019 as China increases its memory production capacity. We then expect Samsung to lose a lot of the revenue gains it has made."

Qualcomm plans to buy NXP this year and Broadcom is trying to buy Qualcomm. If that succeeds, a Broadcom-Qualcomm-NXP combination would likely take a number two slot, according to Norwood.

"The combined revenues of Broadcom, Qualcomm and NXP were $41.2bn in 2017 – a total beaten only by Samsung and Intel," he said. "If Broadcom can finalise this double acquisition and Samsung's memory revenue falls as forecast, then Samsung could slip to third place during the next memory downturn in 2019." ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily

20 Comments

More from The Register

Thanks for the happy memories, Micron – now beat it, says China: Court bans chip sales

Stock in US biz plunges as patent spat gets very serious

Samsung touts bonkers-fast 8 Gbit DRAM for phones, AIs

Chip ships 6,400 Mbps, cuts power consumption

Micron cranks revenue forecast up by $275m amid flash, DRAM boom

Welcomes new CFO too

China may stick to its own DRAM memory soon – researchers

NAND thanks for memory, folks... we don't need you any more

NAND we'll send foreign tech packing, says China of Xtacking: DRAM-speed... but light on layer-stacking

Third of the layers but 3 times the speed, claims Yangtze crew

Micron: Hot DRAM, we're still shifting piles of kit, but somebody's missing our XPoint

Won't say who but we'll point with an elbow. *Cough* Intel *Cough*

DRAM, we've shifted a lot of kit, mumbles profit-munching chip firm Micron

Second quarter results up nearly 60% from last year

Seagate's Barracuda SSD bares its teeth at PC, laptop upgraders

SATA flash drives to put low-cap disk on endangered list

When is a Barracuda not a Barracuda? When it's really AWS S3

Now you can replicate backups to Barracuda's actually-Amazonian cloud

Analyst: DRAM crisis looms after screwup at Micron fab

Nope, that is fake news, says memory chip maker: 'There was a minor event'