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While 2023 cannot be marked as a great year for the global semiconductor industry, it did mark a small win for Intel Corporation as it retook the crown from Samsung as the world’s biggest chip company. The semi-industry is divided into memory and non-memory companies, and both are equally important for outputting products that power the world’s computers and gadgets.
Data from Gartner that was released yesterday shows that during 2023, Intel’s revenue stood at $48.7 billion, significantly higher than Samsung’s $39.9 billion.
Intel Navigates Global Semi Revenue Decline Through Diversifying Away From Memory Chips
Gartner’s report covers revenue from chip designers whose products are typically manufactured through contract manufacturing or their own machines. Unlike the chip industry for processors and GPUs, memory chips are made by several firms apart from Intel, and the report covers revenue from all of them. It excludes TSMC since the Taiwanese firm does not design its own products to sell and compete with its customers.
However, the complexities of maintaining its leading-edge processor chip capabilities and churning out all kinds of chips led Intel to diversify away from the memory business in 2022. This decision, announced just before its current CEO took over, seems to have come just at the right time since the bloodbath in the global memory revenue sector has shifted global rankings.
Samsung is now the second biggest semiconductor company in terms of revenue after facing a 37.5% annual revenue drop last year, according to Gartner. In contrast, the research firm shares that Intel’s revenue slipped by half, or 16%, allowing Intel to buffer itself to maintain a strong footing.
After Intel and Samsung, which earned $48.6 billion and $39.9 billion, Qualcomm was the third biggest semiconductor company. Its revenue was $29 billion, approximately $5 billion higher than the figures for 2023’s most popular company, NVIDIA Corporation.
However, for NVIDIA, 2023 was a special year as well. It marked the first time the firm ranked among Gartner’s five biggest semiconductor companies. NVIDIA’s graphics processors are among the most advanced in the world, and since it does not design or make CPUs, it benefits from being able to focus on entire ecosystems built around its GPUs. NVIDIA’s previous rank in the list had placed it twelfth.
2023 marked considerable hype around NVIDIA as its orders soared and the gaming division continued to recover. But for memory companies, the picture wasn’t quite as rosy. Gartner explains that memory revenue dropped by 37% last year, in line with Samsung’s performance but ahead of the drops faced by other memory companies such as SK hynix and Micron. Intel has sold most of its memory business to SK hynix.
As for Intel, it has to compete with TSMC in the processor markets. Freeing itself up from making memory chips allows it to operate freely in a chip market that is significantly different from the one Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger and his peers grew up in. Now, Taiwan’s TSMC is capable of making x86 chips at an industrial scale, and the role of GPUs in global computing requirements has also grown.
From being simple products for running renders or video games, GPUs are playing a major role in enterprise and other users as 21st century’s first quarter heads to a close. This growth is mirrored in NVIDIA’s valuation, as it remains the most valuable semiconductor firm in the world. NVIDIA’s latest market capitalization is a stunning $1.38 trillion with the shares up 127% over the past 12 months.