Worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $595-billion in 2021, an increase of 26,3% from 2020, according to final results by Gartner.
“The events behind the current chip shortage continue to impact original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) around the world, but the 5G smartphone ramp up and a combination of strong demand and logistics/raw material price increases drove semiconductor average selling prices (ASPs) higher, contributing to significant revenue growth in 2021,” says Andrew Norwood, research vice-president at Gartner.
Samsung Electronics regained the top spot from Intel for the first time since 2018, though by less than a percentage point, with revenue increasing 28% in 2021. Intel’s revenue declined 0,3%, garnering 12,2% market share compared to 12,3% market share for Samsung. Within the top 10, AMD and Mediatek experienced the strongest growth in 2021 at 68,6% and 60,2% growth respectively.
The most significant shift among the semiconductor vendor ranking in 2021 was HiSilicon dropping out of the top 25. “HiSilicon’s revenue declined 81% from $8,2-billion in 2020 to $1,5-billion in 2021,” says Norwood. “This was a direct result of the US sanctions against the company and its parent company Huawei.
“This also impacted China’s share of the semiconductor market as it declined from 6,7% share in 2020 to 6,5% in 2021. South Korea had the largest increase in market share in 2021 as strong growth in the memory market propelled South Korea to garner 19,3% of the global semiconductor market.”
2021 saw strong demand return to the automotive and industrial markets compared to the weak, Covid-disrupted market in 2020. The automotive market outperformed all other end markets, growing 34,9% in 2021. Wireless communications, which is dominated by smartphones, saw growth of 24,6%. The number of 5G handsets produced reached 556-million in 2021, up from 251-million units in 2020, and enterprises upgraded their Wi-Fi infrastructure for employees heading back to the office.
Driven by DRAM, memory accounted for 27,9% of semiconductor sales in 2021 and experienced 33,2% revenue growth, increasing $41,3-billion over the previous year. Memory continued to benefit from the key demand trend in the last couple of years — the shift to home/hybrid working and learning. This trend fueled increased server deployments by hyperscale cloud service providers to satisfy online working and entertainment, as well as a surge in end-market demand for PCs and ultramobiles.