Samsung beats Intel in booming 2017, but only just

May 01, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
Driven by strong growth in the memory market, worldwide semiconductor revenue totalled $420.4 billion in 2017, a 21.6 percent increase from the 2016 global revenue figure of $345.9 billion, according to market research firm Gartner Inc.

As expected memory supplier Samsung emerged as the leading semiconductor vendor but its margin over second-placed Intel was smaller than Gartner had previously forecast. Samsung had annual semiconductor sales in 2017of $59.875 billion compared with Intel's semiconductor sales of $58.725 billion.

As recently as January 2018 Gartner had forecast Samsung would achieve more than $61 billion in sales compared to an Intel number of $57.7 billion (see Samsung leads 2017 chip company ranking).

Top ten semiconductor vendors ranked by worldwide revenue in 2017 (Millions of U.S. dollars). Source: Gartner Inc.

Samsung's success, and that of other companies climbing the ranking of leading vendors, was driven by high average selling prices and increased unit sales of NAND flash memory and DRAM. The memory market surged by nearly $50 billion in 2017 to reach $130 billion, a 61.8 percent increase from 2016. Samsung's memory revenue alone increased by nearly $20 billion in 2017. However, Gartner predicts Samsung's lead will disappear when the memory market goes into its bust cycle, most likely in late 2019.

Non-memory semiconductors grew $24.8 billion to reach $290 billion, representing a growth rate of 9.3 percent

Industrial and automotive equipment markets maintained double-digit percentage growth in 2017 and this helped drive sales at such broadline suppliers as Infineon, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments, Gartner said.

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