According to Gartner, Inc., the global semiconductor revenue grew 26.3 per cent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) in 2021 to reach $595 billion driven by 5G smartphone launches and higher average selling price (ASP) of chips even as component shortages continued to impact OEMs.

Commenting on the report, Andrew Norwood, research vice president, Gartner, said, “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.”

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 per cent in 2021. Intel’s revenue declined 0.3 per cent, garnering 12.2 per cent market share compared to 12.3 per cent market share for Samsung. Within the top 10, AMD and Mediatek experienced the strongest growth in 2021 at 68.6 per cent and 60.2 per cent growth, respectively.

Norwood further said, “HiSilicon’s revenue declined 81 per cent, from $8.2 billion in 2020 to $1.5 billion in 2021. This was a direct result of the U.S. 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 per cent share in 2020 to 6.5 per cent 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 per cent of the global semiconductor market.”

The report further mentions that 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 per cent in 2021. Wireless communications, which is dominated by smartphones, saw growth of 24.6 per cent. 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.

Gartner report further notes that driven by DRAM, memory accounted for 27.9 per cent of semiconductor sales in 2021 and experienced 33.2 per cent 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.