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Samsung dethrones Intel to become 2021's semiconductor industry king

Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c
Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c (Image credit: Qualcomm)

Updated January 20, 2022: This piece has been updated to reflect a correction made by Gartner which wrongly listed 5G smartphone sales data in dollar amounts rather than unit sales.

What you need to know

  • Worldwide semiconductor revenue increased by 25.1% in 2021, reaching a total of $83.5 billion.
  • 2021 was the first year that global semiconductor revenue passed $500 billion.
  • For the first time since 2018, Samsung Electronics earned the top spot among vendors in terms of semiconductor revenue.

Semiconductor growth increased 25.1% in 2021, according to preliminary results by Gartner. That rise saw the semiconductor industry reach a total of $583.5 billion, which is the first time annual revenue has crossed $500 billion within a year. The increase occured despite the ongoing global chip shortage.

Growth in the semiconductor market occurred across several segments, and particularly grew in the automotive industry, according to Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner. "As the global economy bounced back in 2021, shortages appeared throughout the semiconductor supply chain, particularly in the automotive industry," said Norwood. "The resulting combination of strong demand as well as logistics and raw material price increases drove semiconductors' average selling price higher (ASP), contributing to overall revenue growth in 2021."

5G smartphone sales also drove semiconductor revenue in 2021. While unit production was 250 million in 2020, it spiked to 555 million in 2021.

2021 Rank2020 RankVendor2021 Revenue (millions)2021 Market Share (%)2020 Revenue (millions)2020-2021 Growth (%)
12Samsung Electronics75,95013.057,72931.6
21Intel73,10012.572,7590.5
33SK Hynix36,3266.225,85440.5
44Micron Technology28,4494.922,03729.1
55Qualcomm26,8564.617,63252.3
66Broadcom18,7493.215,75419.0
78MediaTek17,4523.010,98858.8
87Texas Instruments16,9022.913,61924.1
910NVIDIA16,2562.810,64352.7
1014AMD15,8932.79,66564.4
--Others (outside top 10)257,54444.1209,55722.9
--Total semiconductor583,477100.0466,23725.1

The top-ten semiconductor vendors stayed largely the same across 2020 to 2021, though there were some notable changes within the top of the rankings. For the first time since 2018, Samsung Electronics passed Intel and earned the top spot.

Memory was the highest-performing segment. Its revenue increased $42.1 billion compared to 2020. The revenue from memory accounted for 33.8% of all semiconductor revenue growth in 2021.

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.