Intel regained its familiar position as the leading seller of semiconductors in the world in the first quarter, as the ongoing downturn in the memory market dragged Samsung Electronics down to No. 2, according to market research firm IC Insights.

Intel’s first-quarter sales of $15.8 billion were roughly flat with the same period of 2018. But Samsung’s sales fell by 34% year over year, from $18.5 billion in the first quarter of 2018 to $12 billion in the first quarter of 2019.


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IC Insights noted that the collapse of the DRAM and NAND flash memory markets has created a complete switch between Intel and Samsung for the first and second positions in the semiconductor supplier ranking — while Samsung’s chip sales were 23% higher than Intel’s in the first quarter of last year, Intel’s were 23% greater than Samsung’s in the first quarter of this year.

The cumulative sales of the top 15 chip vendors declined by 16% in the first quarter compared with the first quarter of 2019, the firm noted. The top 15 fared worse than the semiconductor industry as a whole over the same period, which declined by 13%.

The leading memory companies — Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron Technology — each recorded year-over-year sales declines of at least 26% in the first quarter. Each of these companies had posted year-over-year gains of at least 40% in the first quarter of 2018, IC Insights said.

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Japan’s Sony and China’s HiSilicon — a subsidiary of Huawei — both cracked the top 15 chip supplier list in the first quarter. HiSilicon moved up 11 spots to rank 14th in chip sales with year-over-year growth of 41%. Sony moved from 19th to 15th on the list, with sales improving by 14% based on the strength of its image sensors, said IC Insights.