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Chipmakers are riding high on increased demand for DRAM.
In 2014, semiconductor vendors racked up revenues of $340.3 billion, an increase of 7.9 percent over 2013's haul of $315.4 billion. Leading the charge is dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), the type of chip that works in tandem with processors to give demanding applications the headroom they need to get the job done.
"The memory market was the best performer for the second year in a row, growing 16.6 percent, meaning the rest of the market only achieved 4.9 percent growth," commented Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement." In fact, it was enough of an improvement to set a new record.
"As a group, DRAM vendors performed best, lifted by the booming DRAM market, which saw revenue increase 32 percent to $46.1 billion, surpassing the all-time high of $41.8 billion set in 1995," Norwood continued.
Last year also saw more mergers and acquisitions among top semiconductor vendors compared to 2013, observed Gartner. Deals included the acquisition of LSI by Avago Technologies, securing the latter a spot among the top 25 chipmakers. Also in 2014, MStar Semiconductor merged with MediaTek and ON Semiconductor acquired Aptina Imaging.
Intel was once again the industry leader in 2014 with 15.4 percent of the market and over $52 billion in revenue, a 7.7 percent improvement over the $48.5 billion in sales that the Santa Clara, Calif.-based processor giant generated in 2013. "Intel saw a return to growth after two years of revenue decline, as PC production recovered," noted the analyst firm. Intel has held the top spot for 23 consecutive years.
Coming in at number two is South Korean electronics behemoth Samsung with a 10.2 percent share of the market and $34.7 billion in revenues, a 13.4 percent improvement over 2013. Rounding out the top five are Qualcomm, Micron Technology and SK Hynix. Micron Technology and SK Hynix, both providers of DRAM chips, experienced revenue growth of a 36.6 percent and 26.7 percent in 2014, respectively.
Among the top 10, Toshiba, STMicroelectronics and Renesas Electronics were the only companies to experience a decline in sales during 2014. Texas Instruments and Broadcom saw their revenues rise by 8.9 percent to $11.5 billion and 2.8 percent to $8.4 billion, respectively.
DRAM may have set the pace, but device makers had a hunger for all types of chips last year. "2014 saw all device categories post positive growth, unlike in 2013, when application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC), discretes and microcomponents all declined," Norwood said.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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