Global Semiconductor Revenue Up 26% in 2021, Says Gartner

Article By : Anne-Françoise Pelé

For the first time in three years, Samsung Electronics topped U.S. competitor Intel in Gartner’s Top 10 semiconductor vendors in 2021.

For the first time in three years, Samsung Electronics topped U.S. competitor Intel in Gartner’s Top 10 semiconductor vendors in 2021. Europe, however, remained absent from the ranking.

The South Korean group revenue increased by 28% year over year to $73.2 billion, while Intel’s revenue declined by 0.3% last year at $72.5 billion. This translates to less than a percentage point as Samsung Electronics took a 12.3% market share and Intel 12.2% in 2021.

Intel had regained the No. 1 market position in 2019, as the memory market slowdown had negatively impacted many of the major suppliers, including Samsung Electronics, the top vendor by revenue in 2018 and 2017.

The semiconductor supplier with the steepest drop in 2021 is HiSilicon. “HiSilicon’s revenue declined 81%, from $8.2 billion in 2020 to $1.5 billion in 2021,” said Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement. “This was a direct result of the U.S. sanctions against the company and its parent company Huawei.

HiSilicon’s exit from the Top 25 even affected China’s share of the semiconductor market, from 6.7% share in 2020 to 6.5% in 2021. South Korea, however, experienced the largest increase in market share in 2021 “as strong growth in the memory market propelled South Korea to garner 19.3% of the global semiconductor market,” Norwood added.

Top 10 Semiconductor Vendors by Revenue - Gartner
Top 10 Semiconductor Vendors by Revenue, Worldwide, 2021 (Millions of U.S. Dollars). Image: Gartner

Overall, Gartner indicated that the worldwide semiconductor revenue reached $595 billion in 2021, up 26.3% from $449.8 billion in 2020. The sector had faced a 12% revenue year-on-year decline in 2019.

In 2021, the automotive market and the wireless communications market grew 34.9% and 24.6%, respectively. According to Gartner, the number of 5G handsets produced reached 556 million in 2021, up from 251 million units in 2020, and enterprises upgraded their Wi-Fi infrastructure for employees returning to the office.

Driven by DRAM, memory accounted for 27.9% of worldwide semiconductor sales in 2021 and grew 33.2% of its revenue, an increase of $41.3 billion over the previous year. Memory continued to benefit from the demand over the past two years —  the shift to home/hybrid working and learning.

Commenting on Gartner’s final results, Norwood said, “The events behind the current chip shortage continue to impact original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) around the world, but the 5G smartphone ramp up and a combination of strong demand and logistics/raw material price increases drove semiconductor average selling prices (ASPs) higher, contributing to significant revenue growth in 2021.”

In a study published in March 2022, Gartner questioned whether the semiconductor shortage would continue through 2022. “Things are looking up, but recovery will take time”, KC Quah, senior director analyst, Gartner Supply Chain, said. “While 2021 was highly constrained, 2022 looks to be the beginning of a recovery. And 2023 will see demand and supply come into balance. The models show that 2024 will bring a surplus of capacity, where supply will exceed demand.”


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