Intel spent $13.1 billion in 2017 and accounted for 36 percent of the top ten group’s R&D expenditures of $35.9 billion, up from $34.0 billion in 2017. It also represented 21.2 percent of revenues and about 22 percent of total worldwide semiconductor R&D expenditures of $58.9 billion in 2017,

Top ten chip companies ranked by semiconductor R&D. Source: IC Insights.

A total of 18 semiconductor suppliers allocated more than more than $1.0 billion for R&D spending 2017.  The eight manufacturers outside the top ten were NXP, Texas Instruments STMicroelectronics, AMD, Renesas, Sony, Analog Devices, and GlobalFoundries.

Intel’s R&D spend increased by 3 percent in 2017, below its long-run CAGR of 8 percent. Intel’s R&D spend was 9.3 percent of sales in 1995, 16.0 percent of sales in 2000 and 16.4 percent in 2010. It stood at 24.0 percent in 2015.

Semiconductor-related R&D spending at second-ranked Qualcomm was down 4 percent in 2017, after a 7 percent drop in 2016. Meanwhile third place Broadcom and fourth placed Samsung, increased R&D spending by 4 and 19 percent, respectively.

Next: How the others did

Despite increasing its R&D expenditures by 19% in 2017, Samsung had the lowest investment-intensity level among the top-10 R&D spenders with research and development funding at 5.2% of sales last year. Samsung’s 49 percent increase in semiconductor revenue in 2017 – driven by strong growth in DRAM and NAND flash memory – lowered its R&D as a percent of sales ratio from 6.5 percent in 2016 to 5.2 percent.

Fifth-ranked Toshiba and sixth-ranked Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) each allocated about the same amount for R&D spending in 2017.  Toshiba’s R&D spending was down 7 percent while TSMC had one of the largest increases in R&D spending among the top 10 companies shown in the figure. TSMC’s R&D expenditures grew by 20 percent as the foundry raced rivals Samsung and GlobalFoundries in launching new process technologies.

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