Will Samsung unseat Intel as the world’s top chip maker this year?

Will Samsung unseat Intel as the world’s top chip maker this year?

New research by IC Insights suggest it might

Intel may soon be displaced by Samsung as the world’s top semiconductor manufacturer, according to new research by semiconductor market research company, IC Insights.

Intel has held the top spot since 1993, when it introduced its x486 processor, and maintained its lead thanks, in part, to the later success of its Pentium processor, according to the market research firm.

Intel claimed more than 15 per cent of the global market share as of 2016, according to Statistica, which places Samsung’s market share at around 11.6 per cent for the same period.

Presently, both companies are headed for about $60.0 billion in 2017 semiconductor sales, according to IC Insights. In 2016, Intel claimed around $57 billion in semiconductor sales, while Samsung topped $44.3 billion.

However, the research firm predicts that Intel’s continued dominance in the sector may be drawing to a close, with the market research firm suggesting that, if memory market prices continue to hold or increase through the second (US) quarter, 2017, and the balance of this year, Samsung could claim the top spot.

“Using the mid-range sales guidance set by Intel for 2Q17, and a modest, yet typical, 2Q sales increase of 7.5 per cent for Samsung, the South Korean supplier [Samsung] would unseat Intel as the world’s leading semiconductor supplier in 2Q17,” IC Insights said.

IC Insights points out that Intel’s sales were 40 per cent greater than Samsung’s in the first quarter, 2016, but that in just over a year’s time, that lead may be erased, with Intel potentially finding itself trailing in quarterly sales.

According to the research firm, Samsung’s surge in semiconductor sales has been predominantly driven by the rise in its DRAM and NAND flash average selling prices.

IC Insights said that it expects that the gains in DRAM and NAND flash pricing experienced through 2016 and into the first quarter of 2017 to cool in the second half of the year.

But growth is still expected to be seen, with IC Insights pointing out that there could be a solid upside potential to the current forecast of 39 per cent growth for the 2017 DRAM market and 25 per cent growth in the NAND flash market.

Samsung’s encroachment on the top spot comes as other players also narrow the sales gap between themselves and Intel.

Qualcomm is currently ranked third, pulling in $15.4 billion in semiconductor sales in 2016, according to IC Insights’ figures, with Broadcom nipping at its heels in fourth place, raking in $15.2 billion in semiconductor sales in 2016.

SK Hynix, Micron, TI, Toshiba, NXP and MediaTek fill out the remaining ranks in the top 10 worldwide semiconductor sales leaders, according to IC Insights.

Whether Toshiba will continue to hold its position on this list remains to be seen, with the Japanese technology company taking bids for its memory chip business in a bid to bolster its bottom line following a massive write-down caused by cost overruns of subsidiary business, Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC).

A number of potential buyers are thought to be lining up for a chance to take on Toshiba’s memory chip business, according to media reports, with Western Digital, Foxconn Technology Group and Kingston Technology among those vying for a stake in the business.

Some of the world’s largest tech companies, including Google, Amazon, and Kingston Technology have also reportedly been in the running, alongside a number of investment funds.

In late March, private equity firm, Silver Lake Partners and Broadcom reportedly offered Toshiba about US$17.9 billion for its chip unit, according to Reuters.

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