Published in PC Hardware

Intel is back as number one

by on15 June 2021

But only one to see a sales decline

Chipzilla is the #1 semiconductor maker in the world despite being the only one in the top 15 to post a sales decline.

According to figures from IC Insights, Intel was actually a drag on the overall growth of the industry. The figures include foundries like TSMC as well as name-brand chipmakers like Intel and Qualcomm. They also include, where appropriate, sales of optoelectronic components, sensors, and discrete components, not just ICs. Only about half of the companies on the list make such components, and, for those that do, it’s only about  five per cent of their business.

All companies, other than Intel, saw sales increase from early 2020 to now, and all but one of those posted hefty double-digit upswings ranging from 11 per cent (Apple) to a remarkable 90 percent (MediaTek), to a barely believable 93 percent (AMD).

Six of the 15 companies are fabless, which means almost half of these “chipmakers” don’t actually make their own chips.

The #3 ranked company (TSMC) is a pure-play foundry that does nothing but manufacture chips for others – including those ranked with it, like Apple, AMD, and Nvidia.

This does create a slight problem with the stats. Since All of TSMC’s sales go to other companies, many of which are also listed here, so those chips are counted twice: once when they leave the TSMC loading dock and again when they leave the AMD (or Apple, et al.) loading dock.

Neither AMD nor MediaTek were even on this list last year, but both catapulted into the rankings thanks to nearly doubling their revenue. Their promotion demoted Sony and HiSilicon, which is part of Huawei and had previously been ranked 12th.

Intel can at least say that it is still number one although its lead over Samsung isn’t large: $18.7 billion vs. $17.1 billion.   But the fact that Intel is there is dragging down the rest of the industry which would have seen an impressive 29 percent growth  instead of merely 21 percent.

Last modified on 15 June 2021
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