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Intel, Nvidia bookend top-20 chip ranking

iSuppli's preliminary 2008 top-20 chip rankings are out as memory chipmakers fall upon hard times.

iSuppli releases its preliminary 2008 top-20 chip rankings as semiconductor suppliers fall upon hard times.

Intel, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, and STMicroelectronics occupy the top five positions, while Advanced Micro Devices was No. 11 and Nvidia No. 20 in the ranking.

Memory chip manufacturers are some of the hardest hit. South Korea-based Hynix, which dropped from No. 6 to No. 9, and Micron Technology (No. 16) are both restructuring. Micron is reducing staff and shutting down facilities, while Hynix seeks outside investors.

Micron is expected to post a 9.2 percent revenue decrease in 2008 and Hynix's revenue should dive by about 29 percent in 2008, iSuppli said.

The world's largest memory chip supplier and the world's No. 2 chipmaker, Samsung Electronics, is set for a 9.1 percent revenue decline for the year, the market researcher said.

Toshiba, a major flash memory chip manufacturer, is expected to post a 5.9 percent decline in chip revenue in 2008.

iSuppli said 2008 will go down as "a year to forget" for memory chip suppliers.

Preliminary 2008 worldwide ranking of the top 20 chip suppliers
Preliminary 2008 worldwide ranking of the top 20 chip suppliers iSuppli

Munich, Germany-based Infineon (No. 10) said Wednesday it expects 2009 revenue to fall at least 15 percent from the previous year. Infineon makes chips for automotive and communications devices, but is also a large player in the memory chip market through its subsidiary Qimonda.

Global semiconductor revenue is expected to decline by 2 percent in 2008 due to a 16.9 percent plunge in sales of memory integrated circuits (ICs), iSuppli said. "Only two out of the Top-29 memory IC suppliers, i.e. companies that are expected to earn roughly $100 million or more in 2008, will see their memory IC revenue grow in 2008. For the memory IC business, 2008 can only be described as disastrous," Dale Ford, senior vice president of market intelligence services for iSuppli, said in a statement.

The downturn in semiconductor revenue in 2008 is not limited to memory suppliers. Six of the top-10 chip suppliers are expected to see revenue falls in 2008, including some companies that are not focused on memory, including Texas Instruments, Renesas Technology, and Sony, according to iSuppli.

"In the face of increasingly negative economic news, orders for semiconductors have virtually stopped," the market researcher said.

"About the only good thing that can be said about the 16.9 percent decline in memory revenue in 2008 is that it pales in comparison to the 48.2 percent plunge in 2001," Ford said.

And a few companies have been performing relatively well. Based on an expected revenue growth of 19.6 percent, Qualcomm is expected to jump five places to No. 8 in the rankings in 2008, up from No. 13 in 2007, iSuppli said.