Gartner: Global semiconductor revenue grew 10.4% in 2020

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

It’s official: the semiconductor industry suffered more than most with the initial effects of Covid-19, but there was a recovery by the end of the year.

Gartner has published its final results and closed the book on 2020 global semiconductor revenue, reporting a total of $466.2 billion for last year. This represents an increase of 10.4% from 2019.

In terms of specific vendors, Intel retained its position at the top, seeing growth of 7.4% to secure 15.6% market share at $72.8bn. Samsung Electronics remained the second player at 12.4% market share, while SK Hynix (5.5% share) and Micron Technology (4.7%) also retained their positions.

Qualcomm and Broadcom swapped to complete the top five, with 3.8% and 3.4% share respectively; Qualcomm’s revenues growing 29.5% year on year. Lower down, NVIDIA saw a notable 45.2% yearly growth, placing the company in the top 10 vendors.

Andrew Norwood, Gartner research vice president, noted the difficulties in some areas but consolidation in others. “Memory, GPUs and 5G chipsets led semiconductor growth, driven by hyperscale, PC, ultramobile and 5G handset end-market demand, while automotive and industrial electronics suffered due to lower spending or a pause in spending owing to Covid-19,” said Norwood.

In January, IoT News explored the shifting sands of the semiconductor industry amid a turbulent 2020. At the beginning of the year, Gartner noted in its preliminary results that global revenues were down 11.9%. The emergence of Covid-19 after this, with travel restrictions, slowing of supply chains and other uncertainties, could have had serious repercussions.

The answer can potentially be seen lower down the rankings. Gartner said NVIDIA’s growth was ‘primarily’ driven by its gaming-related and data centre businesses. Demand for 5G and smartphones, as well as demand on data centres and infrastructure, enabled a solid uptick once the ‘initial shock’ of the pandemic’s effect on supply was worked out, according to Cliff Leimbach, senior analyst for memory and storage at Omdia.

It is also worth considering that revenues do not always correlate to volume. The memory sector, which was the second best performing device category, also benefited from the shift to home working and learning as the hyperscale cloud providers built out to accommodate it. Within that sector, NAND flash and DRAM will be in shortage, Norwood argued. This will send pricing higher, with an expected revenue hike of 25%.

Norwood added this could set Samsung, focused more on memory, up with a ‘good chance’ to overtake Intel by the end of 2021.

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