According to IC Insights, the top 17 semiconductor companies are expected to sell $460 billion worth of integrated circuits in 2021. Although all 17 companies have now exceeded the $10 billion mark, as in most markets, the top companies typically account for the vast majority of sales.
Intel, Samsung, and TSMC are expected to account for around $210 billion of total industry sales revenue, and Intel appears to have no choice but to hand Samsung the semiconductor crown. But AMD seems to have some plans of its own.
Intel is the only company in the top 17 with a negative sales growth forecast for 2021, with revenues falling by 1%. This equates to roughly $800 million less in the bank. The company has had supply challenges for longer than other manufacturers, mostly because of delays with its 10nm and 7nm devices.
Some of the company’s semiconductor designs (such as Comet Lake) have even been ported to less technologically sophisticated production nodes. Because TSMC took so long to ramp up its 10nm SuperFin technology, a highly capable AMD could wreak havoc on Intel’s portfolio with great execution — and more than a little aid from the company’s expertise.
AMD is predicted to report a 65 percent revenue increase over its 2020 figures, increasing from $9.7 billion to $16 billion, and breaking the $10 billion mark. AMD has been delivering on its roadmaps with a cadence that would once have made Intel happy. NXP and Analog Devices appear to be on track to meet that goal as well. MediaTek is right behind AMD, with a 60 percent increase thanks to high-performance Arm designs and the company’s 5G portfolio.
When demand outstrips supply, there’s an opportunity to raise the average selling price (ASP) and profits, so a bad year for consumers and semiconductor supplies often translates into a very good year for semiconductor manufacturers. But growth is driven by more than just supply; a strong product portfolio compared to the competition is a driving force behind it. While Intel’s Alder Lake did a good job of closing the gap between AMD and Intel’s offerings, it may have come too late to make up for a lackluster portfolio for the rest of 2021.
A photo released Oct. 8, 2018, shows a 9th Gen Intel Core processor packages. The processor family is optimized for gaming. (Source: Intel Corporation)
Samsung is well-positioned to continue developing its business at a rapid pace, underpinned by 5G rollouts around the world and enormous demand from the HPC, business, and consumer sectors. Its projected 34 percent increase for 2021 is not to be sniffed at, and it is the industry’s highest in terms of pure dollar growth.
In 2021, the company’s NAND and DRAM divisions made a killing, since the demand for NAND and DRAM has only climbed as technology has evolved, and bigger volumes inevitably translate into better sales. Samsung increased its IC sales by $20 billion in 2020, bringing the total to $58 billion.
As the year 2021 draws to a close, all eyes are on the year 2022. Intel wants to recoup some of its lost income, but it still has a long way to go before it can reclaim the top spot from Samsung.