Dismissng forecasts that the global semiconductor supercycle will slow down starting this year, indicators show that the global semiconductor industry continued to set new records in the first quarter of this year.
In particular, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix cemented their dominance of the semiconductor market, widening the gap with their competitors.
The latest report released by the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) shows that global silicon wafer shipments, an important chip industry indicator, reached 3,084 million square inches in the first quarter of this year, up 3.6% from the previous quarter.
It was the first time that the figure exceeded 3 billion square inches. Compared to the same period last year, the volume represented a 7.9% increase.
A silicon wafer is a thin slice of silicon used for manufacturing semiconductors. A rise in wafer shipments means an increase in semiconductor output, which in turn suggests that the semiconductor industry is on the upswing.
In particular, the SEMI said in its report, "As silicon wafer shipments started the year with a record high, they will continue to remain high this year."
In a recent report, DRAMeXchange, a market research firm specializing in memory semiconductors, said that DRAM sales in the first quarter hit US$23.07 billion, up 5.4% from the previous quarter.
The prices of DRAMs for graphics cards used for virtual money mining grew 15% quarter on quarter, and other product groups also chalked up price hikes. This trend is expected to continue in the second quarter.
In the meantime, industry experts noted that Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix stood out among chip makers in the first quarter of this year.
Samsung's semiconductor sales amounted to US$19.401 billion in the first three months of the year, up 43 percent from the same period last year, beating Intel (US$ 15.832 billion) to nab first place, according to global market research firm IC Insights.
In the same period, Intel also saw sales rise 11% from a year ago, but the growth pace fell short of Samsung’s remarkable run.
SK Hynix retained fourth place after Taiwan’s TSMC (US$8,473 million) by posting sales of US$8,141 million. It significantly narrowed its sales gap with the Taiwanese semiconductor giant. In the same period, SK Hynix and TSMC posted sales growth of 49% and 13%, respectively.
"As semiconductor demand from data centers and mobile devices remains strong, the chip market is expected to hold firm until the end of the year," an industry official said. “However, if China's large-scale facility investment leads to actual mass production, the trend may weaken beginning next year."