SAN FRANCISCO—Fabless semiconductor vendor Qualcomm Inc. moved to the No. 5 position among chip sellers in the first quarter, surpassing Texas Instruments Inc., among others, according to market research firm IC Insights.
Qualcomm's first quarter semiconductor sales total of $3.06 billion was up 56 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011. The strong year-over-year increase was partially attributed to Qualcomm's acquisition of Atheros Communications Inc., which closed in the second quarter of 2011.
No other chip vendor in the top 10 recorded year-to-year growth in chip sales in the first quarter, according to IC Insights (Scottsdale, Ariz.).
Qualcomm's move the No. 5 position among chip sellers came just over three years after the company moved into the top 10 for the first time ever in the third quarter of 2008. Qualcomm was the first fabless chip supplier ever to push into the top 10.
Qualcomm (San Diego) ranked seventh in chip sales for all of 2011, according to IC Insights. The firm ranked No. 6 in chip sales according to another ranking by Gartner Inc., which does not include semiconductor foundries.
IC Insights attributed Qualcomm's first quarter performance largely to strong sales of smartphones, many of which feature Qualcomm chips. Qualcomm is on pace to register over $12 billion in sales this year, IC insights said.
Intel Corp. remained far and away the biggest chip supplier in the first quarter, IC Insights said. Intel expanded its lead over No. 2 chip vendor Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., with 68 percent higher sales than Samsung in the first quarter, up from 48 percent for all of 2011, IC Insights said.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) remained the leading foundry by a wide margin in the first quarter with sales of $3.57 billion. TSMC maintained its No. 3 ranking overall among chip sellers, according to IC Insights' ranking, part of the May update to the market watcher's McClean report.
Globalfoundries Inc., now the second largest pure play foundry, moved into the top 20 among chip sellers for the first time in the first quarter, IC Insights said. With first quarter sales of $840 million, Globalfoundries was ranked No. 19 among chip sellers overall, according to IC Insights.
United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) held its No. 20 position in the rankings despite posting a year-to-year decline of 16 percent in first quarter sales, according to IC Insights. The first quarter of the year was the first time that three pure play foundries ranked in the top 20 in any single quarter, according to IC Insights.
Globalfoundries' move into the top 20 displaced Japan's Elpida Memory Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. Elpida's sales for the quarter declined by 34 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011, IC Insights said.