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Top 15 Semiconductor Companies in Q1 2021

The “Top 15 Semiconductor Companies in Q1 2021” has been released. Under U.S. sanctions, Huawei’s mobile phone business and semiconductor business continued to decline. Huawei faces the same situation in the global chip market as in the mobile phone market.

In the global mobile phone market, according to the latest statistics, Huawei, which once ranked second, has fallen out of the top 5 and is included in the “others” sequence. Similarly in the chip market, Huawei HiSilicon also dropped from 10th place to 15th place, and “disappeared” in the list.

IC Insights: Top 15 Global Semiconductor Market Sales in Q1 2021

On the Top 15 list, Huawei HiSilicon has only been there for 2 years

HiSilicon’s first entry into the “Global Top 15 Semiconductor Companies” list was in the first quarter of 2019.

Thanks to the success of the Kirin 970 processor and the increase in self-developed chips in its products, HiSilicon’s revenue rose from US$1.25 billion in the same period in 2018 to US$1.755 billion. A year-on-year increase of 41%. This result allowed HiSilicon’s ranking to rise by 14 places, from 25 in the same period in 2018 to 11th.

But it was also this year that the US government began sanctions against Huawei and included it on the “entity list.” Since then, the US government has extended Huawei’s license five times, allowing Huawei to purchase some US-made products. And US companies can continue to purchase Huawei’s products to minimize interference to customers.

It was also during this period that HiSilicon’s business further improved, and its sales finally increased by 49% year-on-year in the statistics of the first half of 2020. 10 Chinese semiconductor suppliers.

The U.S. further increases sanctions

However, the good times did not last long. Just in May 2020, after the fifth license expired, the U.S. government did not announce the sixth license. We know the reason that Huawei is a competitor of many US companies on the 5G racing. Huawei continues to invest in the 5G Telecommunication Service. (Check this news)

The U.S. further increased the sanctions, prohibiting any company from obtaining government licenses. No companies should provide Huawei with semiconductor products containing American technology.

The issuance of this ban means that TSMC, etc., can no longer find new orders for HiSilicon chips after May 15, and that the production of existing chips will also end on September 15.

This means that under the premise of limited inventory, HiSilicon chips can be said to use one piece less. In this regard, Yu Chengdong also admitted that the Kirin 9000 may be the last generation of Huawei’s high-end Kirin chips because no manufacturer can produce high-end chips for Huawei anymore.

Without a manufacturer producing chips, there will be no chips to sell, and sales will drop. Just as IC Insights predicted last year, under this sanction, HiSilicon, ranked 10th, eventually fell out of the Top 15.

In the end, from “named on the list” to “no such person found”, HiSilicon stayed for a short period of 2 years.

Huawei HiSilicon “disappears”, Qualcomm, MediaTek “eating dividends”

The chip availability severely hurt Huawei’s smartphone business. Its share in the global and domestic markets is showing a trend of plummeting. As for the market share vacated due to the decline of Huawei’s mobile phones, Apple, Xiaomi, and OV won.

Just like the experience of the mobile phone market, when the HiSilicon chip failed due to the US government’s sanctions, who took its vacated share? The answer is two, Qualcomm and MediaTek.

The top five manufacturers of global smartphone shipments

According to the 2021 Q1 market data from IC Insights, two companies, including HiSilicon, fell out of the top 15 and the other was Sony, and it was MediaTek and AMD that replaced them. Qualcomm released the latest flagship chip Snapdragon 888, and MediaTek released Dimensity 1200.

From the statistical data, MediaTek’s revenue in the first quarter of 2021 increased by 90% year-on-year, jumping from 16th to 10th in the same period last year. As for the other “protagonist” Qualcomm, its revenue also increased by more than 50% year-on-year to 55%, and its ranking rose from seventh to sixth in the same period last year.

Regarding Qualcomm and MediaTek’s “leakage” HiSilicon’s point, the changes in the smartphone market suffice to explain.

According to IDC statistics, in the first quarter of 2020, the top five manufacturers of global smartphone shipments are Samsung, Huawei, Apple, Xiaomi, and Vivo, among which only Xiaomi and Vivo show positive growth.

Looking at the data in the first quarter of this year, the top five manufacturers have become Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo, and all five have positive growth. Among them, Xiaomi and OPPO have increased by more than 64% year-on-year, although Vivo is slightly inferior. But it also increased by 40.7% year on year. As for Huawei, it fell out of the top 5.

Revenue of Global Chip Manufacturers in Q1 2021

Despite the severe shortage of chips, the semiconductor industry’s revenue is growing. The main reason is the price increase. The price of some chips has increased by more than 5 times. The prices of individual models in the middle and downstream channels have even increased by more than 10 times, but it affects global chips. Manufacturers’ revenue is the price increase of upstream manufacturers. According to research institutions, the revenue of chip manufacturers in Q1 this year exceeded 800 billion yuan, reaching 839.8 billion yuan (131.3 billion U.S. dollars), an increase of 0.5% month-on-month, and the price increase rate of chip manufacturers was 15%. According to calculations, chip shipments fell by approximately 12.6%.

the shortage of chips

Since the end of 2020, the shortage of chips has become the main theme of many industries around the world. As the shortage of cores intensifies, it is imperative to increase prices. Some chips have even increased prices by 5 times. Under this circumstance, semiconductor manufacturers, including chip foundries, have made a lot of money.

According to the latest data from research institutions on June 15th, in the first quarter of this year, the revenue of global semiconductor manufacturers still reached US$131.3 billion (approximately RMB 839.8 billion), an increase of 0.5% from the previous quarter. It is reported that the quarter-on-quarter growth in revenue in the semiconductor industry is very rare in the first quarter. This is the third time that the research institution has appeared in 19 years.

In addition, Huawei officially announced that it sold the Honor mobile phone this month. Zhao Ming said that the company will establish a close cooperative relationship with Qualcomm. Its chip supply of the product will be fully restored from June. Obviously, Qualcomm has ushered in a new customer. From another perspective, this may also be seen as Qualcomm “robbing” a customer from HiSilicon.


If you did not consider the TSMC, HiSilicon was the only Chinese semiconductor supplier ranked in the top 15. Now, MediaTek has successfully made the list, replacing HiSilicon as the only Chinese semiconductor supplier business.

However, including TSMC, the two Chinese semiconductor companies currently on the top 15 list are all Taiwanese companies. The mainland semiconductor companies are slightly weaker in volume and have a low market share.

According to IC Insights data, Chinese semiconductor companies will only account for 5% of the global IC market share in 2020. Therefore, even if the semiconductor industry benefited from the rapid development of consumer electronics, 5G, autonomous driving, and other industries last year, the dividends allocated to the mainland semiconductor companies can be described as minimal. Self-developed domestic chips are imminent.

As we all know, there are many links in the design of the semiconductor industry chain. Domestic successes in IC design, in particular, are considerably ahead of the curve. For example, domestic general-purpose CPUs have been “basically unavailable” since 10 years ago. To today’s “fully usable” and so on. However, growth is accompanied by challenges and risks.

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