An expected downturn in the memory market this year will reportedly shake-up the semiconductor sales leaderboard, and propel Intel back into the pole position.
Intel had been the top semiconductor supplier in the world from 1993 to 2016, but a slumping PC market coupled with strong growth from competitors entrenched in ultra-mobile markets, eventually allowed Samsung to overtake Intel. According to a recently published report from IC Insights though, Intel will be back in the lead this year.
A Research Bulletin posted on the IC Insights website a couple of days ago says, “For 2019, a steep 24% drop in the memory market is forecast to pull the total semiconductor market down by 7%. With 83% of Samsung’s semiconductor sales being memory devices last year, the memory market downturn is expected to drag the company’s total semiconductor sales down by 20% this year”. The report also suggests that Intel’s semiconductor sales are expected to be flat in 2019, but Samsung’s expected drop will push Intel back to the top of the list.
Intel has a wide array of new products slated to ship this year — including much anticipated 10nm products — that run the gamut from high-end processors for big-iron servers, to low-power network processors, and solid state storage and persistent memory products. In addition to new, highly regarded mobile devices (like the Galaxy S10 family), Samsung too has a multitude of memory and storage products on tap for 2019. Still, IC Insights believes the DRAM and NAND markets will drop off sharply.
Also from the report, “With both the DRAM and NAND flash markets forecast to show big declines this year, IC Insights expects greater than 20% sales declines for the other top-10 ranked memory suppliers (SK Hynix, Micron, and Toshiba/Toshiba Memory) in 2019 as well.” Should the forecast prove true, it appears Samsung won’t be the only company taking a hit this year.
Looking back to a similar report from IC Insights at about this time last year, the firm was nearly on-target with its predictions for 2018, which bodes well for this reports potential accuracy. That said, with the massive amounts of data being generated in this day and age, the actual need for memory and NAND is not likely to decline. Current economic and market conditions may not allow those needs to be met in 2019.