However, this growth was the smallest increase since the economic crash of 2009 and well be the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.0% in R&D expenditures during the last 10 years.


Chip companies started the year with higher expectations but trimmed spending in response to a lack of sales in the second half of the year and growing concerns about China and a weakening global economy.

Intel is the overwhelming leader in semiconductor R&D as it is spending of 24 percent of sales in 2015 resulted in an R&D spend of $12.1 billion. This was more than three times that of second-ranked Qualcomm at $3.7 billion.

The top five spenders were unchanged from 2014, and included Samsung, Broadcom and foundry TSMC. Micron Technology moved up to sixth in 2015, swapping positions with Toshiba, which fell to seventh in the new ranking.  MediaTek went from ninth in 2014 to eighth place, while SK Hynix climbed from 12th to ninth in 2015. ST slid from eighth in 2014 to 10th in 2015, and Nvidia fell out of the top 10 to 11th place in 2015.

The top 10 in the R&D ranking collectively increased spending on research and development in 2015 by about 2 percent compared to the 0.5 percent increase for total semiconductor R&D expenditures in the year. Combined R&D spending by the top 10 exceeded total expenditures by the rest of the semiconductor companies (about $30.8 billion versus $25.6 billion) in 2015.

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