Samsung challenges Intel's semiconductor leadership

Samsung is getting closer to giving Intel a run for its money in the semiconductor market.

That’s according to IHS iSuppli, which has said that in 2010, Samsung got nearer to Intel’s chip leadership than any other company has within the last 10 years.

Samsung got close to challenging Intel thanks to its 9.2 percent global chip revenue last year, a rise from the 7.6 percent recorded in 2009. As a result of its growth it was only 4.1 percent behind Intel.

Analysts are calling the chase “one of the biggest stories of the last decade in the worldwide semiconductor market,”

They have said that although AMD is often cited as the main competitor for Intel, Samsung is actually the primary rival of Intel for overall semiconductor market share. Intel and Samsung have also been ranked in first and second positions, respectively, for a number of years.

However, it wasn’t the same success story back in 2001 when Samsung trailed way behind Intel.

At the time Intel’s market share stood at 14.9 percent and was more than three times that of Samsung, which only scraped 3.9 percent and ranked as fifth.

But it seems that since then the company has risen to be a real challenger. Its revenue has grown by 355 percent, compared to Intel, which has seen a steady growth of  11.9 percent and 14.8 percent.

Samsung owes its success in 2010, to the “booming sales of its main semiconductor product: memory integrated circuits (ICs).”

Among the major semiconductor categories, memory ICs had the strongest growth at 52.4 percent. Next in line was was sensors and actuators at 35.5 percent, followed by discretes at 34.5 percent.

However, the biggest growth driver in the memory segment in 2010 was DRAM, which soared by 75. NAND also saw a comfortable rise of 38.6 percent for the year.

As a result of the growth, Samsung gained a 59.1 percent rise in semiconductor revenue during 2010. This gave it a huge edge and meant it “massively outperformed the overall semiconductor industry”.

Overall worldwide semiconductor revenue amounted to $304.1 billion in 2010, up 32.1 percent from $230.2 billion in 2009.

Although not on par with competing with Intel, Micron, Hynix Semiconductor and Elpida saw their share of the total market rising by 1.1 percent, 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Micron’s strong memory market growth and its acquisition of Numonyx also pushed it five places up and into number eight in the rankings.Hynix and Elpida achieved revenue expansion of 66.2 percent 63.3 percent, respectively. Micron recently struck another deal with Intel.

Texas Instruments grew 34.4 percent, Analog Devices grew 36.9 percent, Intel-owneed Infineon Technologies grew 41.8 percent and Panasonic grew 52.5 percent.

Bringing up the rear in terms of growth for 2010 were MediaTek, which recorded flat revenue, Qualcomm with growth of only 12.4 percent and nVidia with 13.1 percent expansion.