For the past two years Intel has dominated the microchip business, despite competition from long-time rival AMD and more recently from ARM-based chip makers including Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Samsung.

But according to the latest quarterly earnings reports, it looks like Intel is no longer the world’s top chip maker. Samsung is… at least for now.

Samsung’s semiconductor division reported $15.8 billion in revenue during the quarter, compared with $14.8 billion brought in by Intel’s entire business.

Of course, Intel still sells more desktop and notebook CPUs than any other company. And Samsung’s Exynos processors still aren’t all that common in smartphones. So what’s going on?

Memory chips.

Samsung has been the top supplier of DRAM and NAND flash storage for years, and there’s been growing demand for those products in devices such as smartphones and tablets (which don’t necessarily also have Intel processors).

Intel is also a player in the memory & storage space, with a line of SSDs and the recent introduction of its new Optane memory solution. It’s possible that Intel could retake the lead from Samsung in the future if the company’s memory product sales pick up.

But right now the title of “world’s top chip maker” is sort of an odd one, since the two biggest players in the space aren’t exactly competing directly with one another. Samsung is the top memory maker, and Intel clearly dominates the desktop and notebook processor market… and has struggled to gain a foothold in the mobile space.

I guess one of the things that may be changing is which of those markets represents the biggest money-making potential.

via SamMobile and The Korea Herald

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2 replies on “Samsung is now the world’s top chip maker (in terms of revenue)”

  1. Intel makes the most laptop chips, which have massive profit margins.
    Intel makes the most desktop chips (but soon to be split with AMD), and has okay profit margins.
    Nvidia makes the most graphics chips, and has massive profits.
    Intel makes the most server chips, which also has massive profit margins.

    Despite this, Intel has less profits than Samsung.
    Guess the mobile chip market is much much more vast than the server, desktop, laptop and graphics card markets. Even more vast is probably the small chips market; computers for fridges, microwaves, dish washers, etc etc. Though I doubt they generate much revenue.

    Looks like Intel shot themselves in the foot.
    They got comfortable milking the industry and completely got blindsided by Android OS, ARM’s Cortex, and Qualcomm. They stuck on their old microarchitecture Pentium->Celeron->Atom cores, making slow modifications. If they wanted to go that route they should’ve fought competitively with Quadcore Cortex A9’s and Cortex A17’s by fast-tracking their chip release. I mean the Z3590 should’ve been out in early 2012, the Z3795 in late 2012, the Z8500 in late 2013, the Z8700 in early 2014, and finally the Z8750 in late 2014.

    Or the better approach, imho, Intel could’ve ditched their old architecture (Atom) and jumped on their new microarchitecture (Core i) and develop that for ultra-ultra-low-power to fit into a smartphone and hopefully be able to exceed the Cortex A57. If Intel was selling chips to the flagships, even at a price which is unconventional for them, like $80, they could’ve secured a nice piece of the pie. Although realistically they would need to charge $60 AND include LTE radios, which is even a bigger ask. Not sure if Intel has the maturity to abandon their pride to provide so much, for so little money. However, neither Qualcomm, nor Samsung, nor Apple, nor HiSilicon are complaining one bit… and they’re making Billions.

  2. This is really amazing .
    Samsung is one of my all time favorite brand and i’m glad to hear that Samsung is now biggest chip maker as well.
    Well done

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