Intel reclaims worldwide semiconductor throne

In brief: Thanks to the downturn of the memory market, Intel once again resumes reign at the top of the silicon market. The DRAM market hasn’t been too kind to Samsung as of late, but that is expected to change later this year. Particularly in the third quarter, when prices could start to rise with increased demand.

According to IC Insights, Intel is once again atop the silicon throne. Samsung usurped Intel in 2017 while the memory market was booming, but after sharp declines in the DRAM market Samsung has ceded the throne after just a year, even with Intel going through a CPU shortage.

IC Insights explains: “Intel replaced Samsung as the number one quarterly semiconductor supplier in 4Q18 after losing the lead spot to Samsung in 2Q17. While Samsung held the full-year number one ranking in 2017 and 2018, Intel is forecast to easily recapture the number one ranking for the full-year of 2019, a position it previously held from 1993 through 2016. With the collapse of the DRAM and NAND flash markets over the past year, a complete switch has occurred, with Samsung having 23% more total semiconductor sales than Intel in 1Q18 but Intel having 23% more semiconductor sales than Samsung just one year later in 1Q19.”

Samsung’s fall from the top has been anticipated, if not completely expected.

The South Korean giant lead in the semiconductor market relied heavily on the abounding revenues it was seeing from DRAM. With memory prices being closet to the lowest we’ve seen in years and Samsung’s 1Q19 earnings greatly missing the mark, Intel’s ascension back to the top was almost cemented.

The good news for Samsung is that the memory market is expected to stabilize. Memory module shipments are expected to rise in 2H19, while prices could rebound in Q319.

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