"As the global economy bounced back in 2021, shortages appeared throughout the semiconductor supply chain, particularly in the automotive industry,” said Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner. “The resulting combination of strong demand as well as logistics and raw material price increases drove semiconductors’ average selling price higher (ASP), contributing to overall revenue growth in 2021.
According to Norwood the 5G smartphone market also helped drive semiconductor revenue, with unit production more than doubling to reach $555 million in 2021, compared to $250 million in 2020.
Sanctions imposed on Huawei by the US resulted in other Chinese smartphone OEMs gaining share and fuelling growth for 5G chipset vendors such as Qualcomm, MediaTek and Skyworks. HiSilicon, Huawei’s chip subsidiary, saw revenue decline from $8.2 billion in 2020 to around $1 billion in 2021.
Gartner's figures show that Samsung Electronics regained the top spot from Intel for the first time since 2018, with revenue increasing 31.6% in 2021. Its memory revenue grew 34.2% in 2021, in line with the growth rate of the overall memory market. Intel dropped to the No. 2 position with 0.5% growth in 2021, delivering the lowest growth rate among the top 25 vendors.
Memory was again the best-performing device category, primarily due to increased server deployments by hyperscale cloud providers to satisfy remote working, learning and entertainment needs, as well as a surge in end-market demand for PCs and ultra-mobiles. Revenue increased $42.1 billion over 2020, which amounted to 33.8% of overall semiconductor revenue growth in 2021.
Within memory, DRAM had the best performance with revenue growth of 40.4% in 2021, increasing revenue to $92.5 billion in 2021. Strong demand from servers and PCs created a DRAM undersupply that drove double-digit ASPs through most of the year.