According to TrendForce, the Top 10 fabless chip designers boosted their collective sales to $39.43 billion in the first quarter of 2022, up 44 per cent year over year. Qualcomm and Nvidia remained at the top of the list, but AMD — now in the fourth position — is steadily boosting its sales and has a good chance of overtaking Qualcomm as the third largest fabless chip designer in the future quarters.
Qualcomm benefited from the natural expansion of its smartphone SoCs and RF modules businesses in Q1 2022 as the world’s leading supplier. Qualcomm’s first-quarter earnings (excluding its licencing division) totalled $9.548 billion, up 52 per cent from the previous quarter.
The increased demand for discrete graphics processing units for client PCs and datacenter GPUs for AI and high-performance computing applications continued to benefit Nvidia. As a result, revenue for the first quarter increased by 53% year over year to $7.904 billion. Broadcom, on the other hand, was not so fortunate, and its sales only climbed by 26% year over year to $6.11 billion.
In Q1, AMD displaced MediaTek from fourth place, owing to the addition of Xilinx sales to its revenues
Despite this, thanks to robust demand for high-performance processors and graphics cards, AMD’s CPU and GPU sales climbed dramatically in the first quarter. As a result, AMD’s earnings in Q1 2022 surpassed $5.887 billion, a 71 per cent increase over the same quarter last year. Due to seasonality, the company will likely outperform Broadcom in terms of earnings after it adds Pensando to its results and ramps up manufacturing of CPUs, GPUs, and console SoCs later this year.
It will become one of the top three fabless chip designers in the world, a watershed moment for a firm that was on the verge of bankruptcy just over a decade ago. Of course, it remains to be seen how well Pensando and Xilinx will integrate, but for now, AMD has a bright future.
While MediaTek was replaced by AMD, its first-quarter revenue increased by 32% year over year to $5.007 billion. With its mobile SoCs, the business continues to address a wide range of smartphones and tablets. As the company’s portfolio grows and application processor efficiency improves, it will be able to charge more premiums for its products.
Marvell was another company that saw over 70% revenue growth year over year in Q1 2022 (to $1.412 billion), owing to its October 2021 acquisition of Innovium, a cloud and edge data centre networking solutions designer. Meanwhile, Marvell was not the only company to benefit from a merger and acquisition strategy. Cirrus Logic (No. 10) acquired Lion Semiconductor in mid-2021 to enhance its mixed-signal business, and its Q1 2022 sales were $490 million, up 67 per cent year over year.
Demand for various chips is still high, especially in the 5G, automotive, AI, high-performance computing, and edge computing sectors. However, even the seemingly stable semiconductor market may face challenges as a result of the geopolitical and macroeconomic scenario. As a result, it will be fascinating to see how the major chip manufacturers respond to these difficulties in the coming quarters.