Samsung sprints past Intel to become world's semiconductor sales leader

Q2 saw Sammy lean into the booming memory market while Intel’s chip sales remain stagnant


Samsung has taken the sales lead as the world's largest semiconductor supplier in 2021's second quarter after a ten per cent jump allowed it to leapfrog Intel in the rankings, said semiconductor-centric analyst firm IC Insights.

IC Insights' August Update to the 2021 McClean Report ranks Samsung as the company with the world's most voluminous semiconductor sales in Q2 – up from second place in Q1. Intel holds second place. The remaining top five remain stable in their ranking: TSMC (3rd), SK hynix (4th) and Micron (5th). SK hynix and Micron saw significant sales boosts in Q2 from Q1 but not enough to shuffle the rankings.

Samsung's secret sauce was a 19 per cent increase in sales driven by rising demand for DRAM and flash memory – a market segment that has aided past Samsung surges. Rising prices along with heavy demand did Samsung's bottom-line a world of good as well.

Memory demand is expected to rise ten more points in Q3 21, meaning Samsung should extend its revenue lead.

All top ten semiconductor suppliers sold over US$4.3 billion of kit in Q2, experiencing a collective rise of ten per cent to collectively achieve US$95.5 billion worth of sales. The semiconductor industry as a whole experienced eight per cent growth. Intel, TSMC, Qualcomm and Broadcom couldn't match that pace.

Further bad news for Intel is a sales growth prediction for Q3 2021 of negative three per cent, leaving The Reg to wonder how long it will be sitting at second place.

The answer to that might lie in how Intel's new chip designs are received. The chip giant revealed a lineup this week that adopts hybrid architectures.

The lower half of the top ten saw some movement too. Nvidia sales rose 14 per cent from the previous quarter due to strong demand for its data center and gaming segments – the former will be thrilling news as the company tries to outgrow its gaming roots. MediaTek sales rose 17 per cent thanks to 5G smartphones and consumer multimedia. AMD, which narrowly missed the top ten to come in at eleventh place, had a 12 per cent increase in Q2 2021.

IC Insights predicts an overall 23 per cent increase in the world semiconductor market for 2021. ®

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