Intel tops semiconductor supplier rankings for the first half of 2020

Intel pauses stock buyback program in the midst of coronavirus pandemic.

IC Insights reports that Intel topped its ranking of best-selling semiconductor companies for the first half of 2020. According to the research group, the Santa Clara, California-based company brought in over $38.95 billion in sales in the first six months of the year.

The organization’s new report also offered insights regarding Intel, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Huawei’s HiSilicon, and the electronic components industry as a whole.

Intel Leads the Pack, For Now

Like many of its contemporaries, Intel experienced a surge in revenue related to the coronavirus pandemic. As millions of people began working remotely, they purchased new PCs and hardware to facilitate their transitions. Web service providers also saw a massive increase in usage from homebound staffers and students, necessitating a raft of memory and microprocessor purchases.

Since Intel is the market leader in the computer and data center chip sector, its first-half sales rose by 20 percent from 2019. The company brought in 30 percent more revenue than its nearest rival, Samsung, in the January to June period. However, the firm’s dominance is threatened by its problems keeping pace with the industry’s demands for constant innovation.

Last month, Intel announced a delay in the release of its 7nm products because of poor wafer yields. Following that admission, Yahoo! Finance reported the chipmaker placed a large order for 6nm nodes with TSMC. Unless the brand makes significant changes to its business model, its competitors could overtake it in the next few years.

TSMC on the Ascent

Speaking of TSMC, the pure-play foundry ranked as IC Insights number three best-selling chipmaker for the first half of 2020. The Taipei-based brand made $20.7 billion in 1H20, an increase of 40 percent from last year.

The company’s success is due to its manufacturing capacity and capability, as well as its client mix.

Thanks to its research and development efforts, the foundry is on leading-edge semiconductor technological advancement. At present, it is the only chipmaker capable of mass-producing 5nm wafers, though Samsung intends to launch its 5nm process this year. The company also plans to begin risk production of 3nm nodes in 2021 with volume manufacturing to start the following year.

TSMC’s exceptional technical aptitude helped it secure supply deals with Apple, AMD, Broadcom, Nvidia, Marvell, MediaTek, and Qualcomm. Demand for its services is so intense, it seemingly recovered immediately from losing a customer responsible for 15 percent of its revenue.

If TSMC designed its own hardware, it would already hold Intel’s current market position.

HiSilicon’s Day in the Sun

IC Insights notes Huawei’s fabless chip-making subsidiary, HiSilicon, ranked as the world’s tenth best-selling semiconductor supplier in 1H20. In the first six months of the year, the firm generated $5.2 billion in revenue, a 49 percent improvement from 2019.

Although HiSilicon can sell its products to outside firms, most of its sales come from its parent corporation. As Huawei managed to ship enough handsets to become the global leader in smartphone sales in Q2 2020, its semiconductor unit saw an accompanying sales spike. However, the firm’s success is unlikely to carry over into the rest of the year.

Because of a recent U.S. government export control mandate, Huawei lost access to American made or designed technology. Consequently, TSMC stopped taking HiSilicon’s mobile processor orders, and the electronics maker has not found a replacement.

Since HiSilicon has no way to mass-produce its cutting-edge chips, it probably will not rank on IC Insight’s bestsellers list again anytime soon.

Top Ten Semiconductor Makers Sales Up 17 Percent

Although Intel and HiSilicon’s long-term prospects are unclear, the larger semiconductor industry is doing well. Despite the disrupting impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the supply chain, the sector’s top ten brands increased their 1H sales by 17 percent from 2019. Outbreak-related demand for consumer and server components acted as a rising tide for many suppliers.

Samsung saw its first-half semiconductor revenue rise by 22 percent year-over-year because of interest in its memory modules. SK Hynix experienced a 13 percent sales boost in the period for the same reason, while Micron recorded a 4 percent uptick in income.

Graphics card manufacturer Nvidia enjoyed a 40 percent spike in 1H revenue because its GPUs have data center optimizing capability. Chipset maker Qualcomm grew its sales by 8 percent because of robust interest in its 4G and 5G components.

In fact, the research group found only Texas Instruments and Broadcom suffered business contractions due to the pandemic. Even then, TI’s sales slipped by 9 percent while Broadcom’s dipped by a very modest 3 percent. Once the world better adapts to the post-coronavirus landscape, both firms should see revived demand for their products.

If nothing else, the big take away from IC Insights’ report should be that the semiconductor industry is recovering well from the effects of the global health crisis.


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