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Samsung Semiconductor Business Closes Gap With Intel

August 28, 2015 - Written By Cory McNutt

As the need for semiconductors grows on a global scale, so does the competition between two of the giants in that industry – Intel and Samsung Electronics.  Samsung’s semiconductor business has grown so much the past few years that as of the end of the second quarter of 2015, the gap between number one Intel and Samsung is now at only 1.6-percent.  Marketing firm HIS iSuppli claims that Samsung turned over US$10.366 billion in sales during the Q2 2015 and a 12-percent share of the global market – including memory and non-memory semiconductors.  The world’s largest chipmaker Intel, grabbed US$11.797 billion in sales and a 13.6-percent of the global share…this gap of 1.6-percent is the first time the gap is in the 1-percent range.

The second quarter 2015 was the first time that Samsung topped the $10 billion mark, but they have been gaining on Intel for a few years.  In 2011, the gap was 6.9-percent, in 2012 it dropped to 6.0-percent, then 4.3 in 2013 and down to 3.4-percent in 2014.  Samsung’s market share grew by 0.8-percent during the second quarter, while Intel grew by only 0.3-percent.  SK Hynix, another South Korean manufacturer of mobile chipsets accounted for 4.9-percent of the market with US$4.29 billion in sales and surpassed Qualcomm – the world’s largest mobile chipset maker – taking over third place and pushing Qualcomm into fourth place.

The semiconductor field is growing as more things look to electronics for their control – the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile devices, appliances, automobiles, driverless cars and even our entire home.  Intel waited too long to make the switch from PCs and Laptops to mobile devices and only now are starting to really penetrate that market.  When it came to chips for mobile device chips, Qualcomm, Samsung and MediaTek are the processors that come to mind, with Huawei’s Kirin chips starting to crop up more, but Intel is only starting to crack the mobile door.  Breaking into a new field is not that easy and most manufacturers have their favorite chipmakers.

China and India are huge markets that every manufacturer would like to get control – but the big shooters, like Xiaomi are rumored to be making their own chips for their Redmi smartphones, although Lenovo may tap into Intel for its smartphone chips as they have a relationship because of their tablets.  As the year goes on it will be interesting to see if Intel can widen the gap between them and Samsung.