Over the year, Intel held on to its top spot as the leader in annual revenues.
According to this analysis of the worldwide semiconductor market, Omdia found that the market surpassed annual revenue of half-a-trillion dollars for the first time ever in 2021, capping a what was described as a ‘remarkable year’ for the industry. In addition, nearly 60% of companies in the sector grew by more than 20% in revenues.
Samsung maintained the top spot as the largest semiconductor company by revenue in the last quarter of last year bringing in revenue of $19.99bn compared to Intel’s $19.97bn. Samsung was also the largest semiconductor firm by revenue in 3Q21, taking over after Intel was the largest in 1Q21 and 2Q21.
On an annual basis, however, Intel completed 2021 as the number one semiconductor company by revenue in 2021, with revenue at $76.6bn, which represented 13% of all semiconductor revenue for the year. Notably, Intel’s 2021 revenue growth was nearly flat from 2020, which contrasted with the following top nine semiconductor firms, which all experienced year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth above 15%.
Intel’s main revenue source, MPUs, experienced weaker 2021 growth compared to other components. MPUs overall grew at 11% YoY last year, much lower than the total semiconductor growth level of 24%.
Samsung finished 2021 just behind Intel, with semiconductor revenue of $75.2bn, representing 12.8% of all revenue for the industry but significantly closed the annual revenue gap to Intel thanks to the strong increase in the DRAM market (up 42% in 2021) and NAND market (up 23% in 2021). Samsung is the number one firm for both components.
Samsung's growth rate of 32.1% last year demonstrates that not all components increased in a similar fashion last year. In 2020, Samsung’s semiconductor revenue was $19.3bn behind Intel, but last year that gap closed to just $1.4bn.
Total 2021 semiconductor industry revenue of $586.8bn was $100bn more than the next highest year on record, 2018, when the industry brought in $484.7bn. YoY revenue growth in 2021 was 24.2%, the second highest on record since Omdia began tracking the metric in 2002.
Commenting on the findings Cliff Leimbach, Senior Research Analyst for the semiconductor market at Omdia, noted that the highest YoY revenue growth rate on record was in 2010 (34.1%), but this was a recovery year following a 10.9% decline in 2009 related to the Great Recession.
"YoY growth in 2021 is significant because the prior year was not a recovery year, but an above average year with 10.4% growth," Leimbach said, adding that the long-term YoY growth for the semiconductor market is 6.8%.
Of the 247 companies that Omdia tracks at an annual level, 145 (59%) had annual semiconductor revenue growth greater than 20% in 2021. The strong 2021 was not specific to a few of the largest semiconductor firms but spread through the majority of players in the industry.
As 2021 was a record-breaking year, it was underpinned by recording breaking quarters, and 4Q21 no exception. The last quarter of 2021 was the fifth straight quarter of record revenue for the industry, with quarterly revenue rising to $159.1B, up 3.6% from the previous quarter – versus the long-term historical average of 0.6% QoQ increase in semiconductor revenue.
"Demand continues to be strong in the work-from-home era brought about by the global pandemic and supply tight for many components," said Craig Stice, Chief Semiconductor Industry Analyst at Omdia. "Supply shortages throughout the semiconductor landscape resulted in rising ASPs, which helped lift revenue. The resulting strong annual revenue was significantly above the historical average, 24.2% versus 6.8%."