Samsung Closes in on Intel for Semiconductor Market Leadership in 2010

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
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Continuing its steady rise in the semiconductor industry, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in 2010 came closer to challenging Intel Corp.’s chip market leadership than any company had in more than a decade, new IHS iSuppli market research has revealed.

The newly released final market share rankings for 2010 show No. 2-ranked Samsung held 9.2 percent share of global chip revenue, up from 7.6 percent in 2009. This put the South Korean electronics giant a mere 4.1 percentage points behind perennial market leader Intel of the United States.

“The rise of Samsung is one of the biggest stories of the last decade in the worldwide semiconductor market,” said IHS analyst Dale Ford. “When experts discuss competition for Intel, they almost always focus on Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD). While it is true that AMD is Intel’s major competitor in the microprocessing unit (MPU) market, Samsung is the primary rival of Intel for overall semiconductor market share. And although they are mainly indirect competitors in the marketplace, Intel and Samsung have been ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, for a number of years.”

In 2001 Intel’s market share at 14.9 percent was more than three times that of Samsung at 3.9 percent; Samsung ranked fifth then.

Since that time, Intel’s market share has ranged between 11.9 percent and 14.8 percent. Meanwhile, Samsung has seen its revenues grow by 355 percent from 2001 to 2010, allowing the company to expand market share and raise its ranking.

Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics, Toshiba, Texas Instruments, Renesas Electronics, Hynix, STMicroelectronics, Micron Technology, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Elpida Memory, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Infineon, Sony Corp., Panasonic, Freescale, NXP, Marvell Technology Group, MediaTek (MTK), nVidia, ROHM Semiconductor, Fujitsu Semiconductor, Analog Devices (ADI), Maxim Integrated Products, Xilinx

Memories Drive Samsung’s Rise

Samsung’s strong performance in 2010 was driven by booming sales of its main semiconductor product: memory integrated circuits (ICs).

Among the major semiconductor categories, memory ICs had the strongest growth at 52.4 percent. In comparison, the next fastest-rising area was sensors and actuators at 35.5 percent, followed by discretes at 34.5 percent.

The biggest growth driver in the memory segment in 2010 was dynamic random access memory (DRAM), which enjoyed 75.0 percent expansion. The other major segment of the memory market, NAND flash, grew 38.6 percent for the year.

For Samsung, given its position as the world’s leading supplier of DRAM and NAND, the company’s 59.1 percent rise in semiconductor revenue during 2010 meant it massively outperformed the overall semiconductor industry. Worldwide semiconductor revenue amounted to $304.1 billion in 2010, up 32.1 percent from $230.2 billion in 2009, according to the final IHS iSuppli 2010 semiconductor revenue ranking.

Other Memorable Performances

The strong growth in memory markets also propelled other major memory suppliers up the market share rankings and charts.

U.S.-based Micron Technology, Hynix Semiconductor of South Korea and Japan’s Elpida Memory expanded their share of the total market by 1.1 percent, 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. For Micron, the combination of strong memory market growth and its acquisition of Numonyx propelled Micron up five places into the Top 10 to No. 8. For their part, Hynix and Elpida achieved revenue expansion of 66.2 percent 63.3 percent, respectively–the largest increase among Top 20 semiconductor companies based entirely on organic growth. As a result, Elpida jumped up four spots in ranking from No. 15 in 2009 to No. 11 in 2010, while Hynix advanced one place to No. 6.

The Urge to Merge

Renesas Electronics Corp. went up in the rankings from No. 9 in 2009 to No. 5 in 2010 by virtue of the merger between Renesas Technology and NEC Electronics. The two companies, which had combined revenues in 2009 of $9.5 billion, grew 24.7 percent, less than the overall market, to $11.9 billion in 2010.

The 3.9 percent market share in 2010 of Renesas Electronics Corp. is still lower than the 4.3 percent market share of Renesas Technology, formed in 2003 by the merger of Hitachi Semiconductor and Mitsubishi Semiconductor. Renesas Technology had seen its overall market share fall to 2.2 percent in 2009, but the most recent merger now boosts the merged entity back up close to the company’s original share and into the Top 5 rankings.

Movers and Shakers

A combination of impressive business execution and participation in strong market segments enabled Maxim Integrated Products, Marvell Technology Group, Elpida Memory, Broadcom Corp. and Xilinx Inc. to make the biggest strides in the Top 25 market rankings for 2010.

Maxim jumped six places to No. 24, followed by Marvell climbing five places to No. 18. The rest moved up four places, with Broadcom moving into the Top 10 for the first time. All five companies, driven primarily by organic growth, expanded their revenues between 36.0 percent and 63.3 percent in 2010.

Other semiconductor suppliers achieving strong growth in 2010 without the boost of a major acquisition were Texas Instruments with an increase of 34.4 percent, Analog Devices with 36.9 percent, Infineon Technologies with 41.8 percent and Panasonic Corp. with 52.5 percent. Infineon’s revenue for 2010 still includes the wireless business it sold to Intel at the start of 2011.

NXP, which sold its set-top box business lines to Trident Microsystems in 2010, also delivered a healthy performance with 24.3 percent growth.

Semiconductor Laggards

Suppliers among the Top 25 that struggled the most in 2010 were Taiwan-based MediaTek with flat revenue, Qualcomm with growth of only 12.4 percent and nVidia with 13.1 percent expansion. Qualcomm slipped from No. 6 to No. 9, and MediaTek fell from 16th to 19th in the rankings. nVidia was able to hang on to its No. 20 spot. AMD and Sony Corp. also fell in the rankings by four positions each, as their overall revenue growth significantly lagged market growth.

Not a Fabulous 2010 for Fabless

In a notable reversal from historical trends, fabless semiconductor suppliers underperformed the overall semiconductor market. Fabless semiconductor suppliers as a group achieved revenue growth of only 26.0 percent in 2010. However, seven fabless companies ranked among the Top 25 suppliers in 2010, up from six in 2009. The seven included Qualcomm, Broadcom, AMD, Marvell Technology Group, MediaTek, nVidia and Xilinx.

More: Semiconductor Boom in 2010 Drives Growth for Ninety Percent of Suppliers