Semiconductor industry

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Electronic Integrated Circuit Export by Country as of 2016, by HS4 trade classification.
Export of discrete semiconductors as of 2016, by United Nations Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding Systems 4

The semiconductor industry is the aggregate collection of companies engaged in the design and fabrication of semiconductors. It formed around 1960, once the fabrication of semiconductor devices became a viable business. The industry's annual revenue has since grown to $412.2 billion in 2017.[1]

The most widely used semiconductor device is the MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor), also known as the MOS transistor.[2] Since its invention by Mohamed Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in 1959,[3][4][5] the MOSFET has become the most widely manufactured device in history,[6][7] with an estimated total of 13 sextillion MOS transistors having been manufactured between 1960 and 2018.[6]

Industry structure[edit]

The global semiconductor industry is dominated by the United States, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, China, Israel, European Union, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Unique features of the industry include continuous growth but in a cyclical pattern with high volatility. While the current 20 year annual average growth of the semiconductor industry is on the order of 13%, this has been accompanied by equally above-average market volatility, which can lead to significant if not dramatic cyclical swings. This has required the need for high degrees of flexibility and innovation in order to constantly adjust to the rapid pace of change in the market as many products embedding semiconductor devices often have a very short life cycle.

At the same time, the rate of constant price-performance improvement in the semiconductor industry is staggering. As a consequence, changes in the semiconductor market not only occur extremely rapidly but also anticipate changes in industries evolving at a slower pace. The semiconductor industry is widely recognized as a key driver and technology enabler for the whole electronics value chain.[8]

Industry revenue[edit]

The semiconductor industry's annual revenue grew to $412.2 billion in 2017. The following are the largest semiconductor industry sectors, as of 2017.[1]

Rank Sector Revenue
1 Memory $124 billion
2 Logic $102.2 billion
3 Micro integrated circuits $63.9 billion

Largest companies[edit]

Largest semiconductor companies (annual semiconductor sales leaders)
Rank 2018[9] 2017[9] 2011[10] 2006[11] 2000[11] 1995[11] 1992[12] 1990[11] 1986[13] 1985[11] 1975[13]
1 Samsung Samsung Intel Intel Intel Intel NEC NEC NEC NEC TI
2 Intel Intel Samsung Samsung Toshiba NEC Toshiba Toshiba Toshiba TI Motorola
3 SK Hynix TSMC TSMC TI NEC Toshiba Intel Hitachi Hitachi Motorola Philips
4 TSMC SK Hynix TI Toshiba Samsung Hitachi Motorola Intel ? Hitachi ?
5 Micron Micron Toshiba ST TI Motorola Hitachi Motorola ? Toshiba ?
6 Broadcom Broadcom Renesas Renesas Motorola Samsung TI Fujitsu ? Fujitsu ?
7 Qualcomm Qualcomm Qualcomm Hynix ST TI ? Mitsubishi ? Philips ?
8 Toshiba TI ST Freescale Hitachi IBM Mitsubishi TI ? Intel ?
9 TI Toshiba Hynix NXP Infineon Mitsubishi ? Philips ? National ?
10 Nvidia Nvidia Micron NEC Philips Hyundai ? Matsushita ? Matsushita ?
Major semiconductor companies
Name HQ country Manufacturer type[14] Hardware products
Samsung Electronics South Korea IDM NAND flash memory, DRAM, CMOS sensor, RF transceivers, OLED display, SSD
TSMC Taiwan Pure-play
SK Hynix[a] South Korea IDM
Micron[b] USA IDM DRAM, NAND flash, SSD, NOR flash, Managed NAND, multichip packages
Qualcomm USA Fabless
Broadcom USA Fabless
Toshiba Japan IDM
Texas Instruments (TI) USA IDM
Analog Devices USA IDM Amplifiers, data converters, audio & video products, RF & microwave, sensors, MEMS
Microchip USA IDM Microcontroller and analog semiconductors
NXP Netherlands IDM
MediaTek Taiwan Fabless
Infineon Germany IDM
STMicroelectronics Switzerland IDM
Sony Japan IDM
ARM United Kingdom Fabless
AMD USA Fabless
Nvidia USA Fabless
Renesas[c] Japan IDM
GlobalFoundries[d] USA Pure-play
ON Semiconductor USA IDM
UMC Taiwan Pure-play
Apple USA Fabless
Fujitsu Japan IDM
Hitachi Japan IDM
IBM USA Fabless
Mitsubishi Electric Japan IDM
Panasonic Japan IDM


  • Pure-play foundries – They specialize in foundry services. They may or may not offer design services to third parties, as well as mask (photomask) making, semiconductor packaging and testing services, which can also be outsourced to other companies. An example is TSMC, which offers design, testing and packaging services, TCE phtomasks, which offers only mask making services, and ChipMOS, which offers only packaging and testing services.
  • IDMs (integrated device manufacturers) – They may or may not offer foundry services.
  • Fabless suppliers – They do not offer foundry services. They may or may not offer design services to third parties.



Manufacturers headquartered in the following regions are the sales leaders in the pure-play foundry, IDM (integrated device manufacturing), fabless manufacturing and OSAT (outsourced semiconductor assembly and testing) sectors of the industry.[14]

Rank Foundry IDM Fabless OSAT
1 Taiwan United States United States Taiwan
2 United States South Korea Taiwan United States
3 China Japan China China
4 Israel European Union European Union Singapore
5 South Korea Taiwan Japan Japan

Note that manufacturers headquartered in the United States have fabrication plants across the world, including over 50% in the Americas, 39% in the Asia-Pacific region (including 9% in Japan), and 9% in Europe.[14]


Patent holders from the following countries produced the highest number of annual semiconductor patents worldwide, as of 2005.[15]

Rank Country Patents (est.)
1 Japan 30,500
2 South Korea 13,500
3 United States 9,500
4 Taiwan 4,000
5 China 3,500
6 Germany 2,500

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Annual Semiconductor Sales Increase 21.6 Percent, Top $400 Billion for First Time". Semiconductor Industry Association. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  2. ^ Golio, Mike; Golio, Janet (2018). RF and Microwave Passive and Active Technologies. CRC Press. p. 18–2. ISBN 9781420006728.
  3. ^ "1960 - Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Transistor Demonstrated". The Silicon Engine. Computer History Museum.
  4. ^ "Who Invented the Transistor?". Computer History Museum. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  5. ^ Lojek, Bo (2007). History of Semiconductor Engineering. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 321–3. ISBN 9783540342588.
  6. ^ a b "13 Sextillion & Counting: The Long & Winding Road to the Most Frequently Manufactured Human Artifact in History". Computer History Museum. April 2, 2018. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  7. ^ Baker, R. Jacob (2011). CMOS: Circuit Design, Layout, and Simulation. John Wiley & Sons. p. 7. ISBN 978-1118038239.
  8. ^ Staff, ReportLinker. “Global Semiconductor Market Outlook 2022.” January 13, 2016. February 19, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Manners, David (14 November 2018). "Top Ten (+5) Semiconductor Companies 2018". Electronics Weekly. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Top 25 2011 Semiconductor Sales Ranking". IC Insights. April 5, 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Tracking the Top 10 Semiconductor Sales Leaders Over 26 Years". Semiconductor Market Research. IC Insights. December 12, 2011.
  12. ^ "WORLDWIDE IC MANUFACTURERS" (PDF). Smithsonian Institution. 1997. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  13. ^ a b "1980s Trends in the Semiconductor Industry". Semiconductor History Museum of Japan. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  14. ^ a b c "BEYOND BORDERS: THE GLOBAL SEMICONDUCTOR VALUE CHAIN" (PDF). Semiconductor Industry Association. May 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  15. ^ "World Intellectual Property Report" (PDF). World Intellectual Property Organization. 2015. p. 78. Retrieved 8 July 2019.