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Semiconductor Market Takes a Dip in 2023, Intel Reclaims the Throne

Published: 1.24.2024

The global chip market stumbled in 2023, shrinking by 11.1% to $533 billion, according to preliminary data from Gartner. This drop was largely triggered by a record-breaking 37% plunge in memory segment revenue. 

Memory products, encompassing DRAM and NAND flash, bore the brunt of the 2023 downturn. Smartphone, PC, and server markets, key consumers of memory chips, faced weaker-than-anticipated demand and overflowing inventory, especially in the first half. Consequently, DRAM revenue nosedived by 38.5% to $48.4 billion, while NAND flash plummeted 37.5% to $36.2 billion. 

"While the cyclical nature of the semiconductor industry was no surprise, 2023 proved particularly harsh, with memory suffering one of the worst slumps ever," remarked Alan Priestley, VP Analyst at Gartner. "The sluggish market also bruised several chipmakers, with only 9 of the top 25 seeing revenue gains and 10 enduring double-digit declines."  

Unlike memory, the non-memory segment exhibited greater resilience in 2023, enduring a smaller 3% dip in revenue.

While facing similar demand and inventory challenges, most non-memory vendors navigated a comparatively stable pricing landscape. Additionally, demand for non-memory chips used in artificial intelligence (AI) applications remained robust, acting as a key growth engine. The automotive sector, particularly electric vehicles, and the defense and aerospace industries also contributed to the non-memory market's relative stability. 

The turbulent market conditions of 2023 reshaped the landscape of the top 10 semiconductor vendors. Intel recaptured the top spot from Samsung, which had held it for the previous two years. Intel's 2023 revenue reached $48.7 billion compared to Samsung's $39.9 billion. 

One of the most significant changes was Nvidia's debut in the top five. The company's dominance in the AI silicon market, powered by its leadership in graphics processing units (GPUs), propelled its semiconductor revenue by 56.4% to $24 billion in 2023, propelling them into the coveted top five.In conclusion, the 2023 semiconductor market faced significant headwinds, particularly in the memory segment. However, the non-memory market demonstrated relative resilience, and some vendors, like Intel and Nvidia, leveraged emerging opportunities to strengthen their positions. 

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