SAN FRANCISCO — Broadcom ascended to the top of the heap in sales among fabless chip vendors in 2018, knocking rival Qualcomm from the spot it had held for more than 10 years, according to TrendForce, a Taipei-based market research firm.Broadcom’s sales increased by 2.6% in 2018, well below the 13.7% growth of the semiconductor industry as a whole. But even this tepid growth was enough to enable Broadcom to slip past Qualcomm, which saw its sales slip by 3.9% amid declining smartphone demand and the loss of its position as the primary modem supplier in Apple’s iPhone.Recommended
Trump Trumps Broadcom’s Bid for QualcommBroadcom famously attempted a hostile takeover of Qualcomm beginning in 2017. The bid was ultimately squashed by U.S. President Donald Trump, who cited national security concerns.Nvidia — which again ranked third in fabless chip vendor sales in 2018 — grew the fastest of any of the top 10 suppliers at 28.4%. Taiwan’s MediaTek remained in the No. 4 position despite suffering a slight decline of 0.7% in sales, also due to weak smartphone demand, according to TrendForce.AMD — which remained the fifth-ranked fabless vendor — grew the second-fastest of any of the fabless firms last year, with sales increasing by 23.3%. Yao said that this was mainly due to AMD’s computing and graphics products, which posted sales growth of 38.6%.
Eight of the top 10 fabless chip vendors posted sales increases for 2018. Chia-Yang Yao, a senior industry analyst at TrendForce, attributed this largely to growth in end markets such as telecom infrastructure, data center, and TVs. Fabless firms also increased revenue through acquisition, Yao said.But Yao also noted that several fabless firms turned in sales that were below original forecasts. Nvidia, Marvell, and Dialog Semiconductor all decreased their forecasts over the course of the year, Yao noted.Yao forecasts that the top 10 IC design companies will be dragged down in 2019 by numerous factors, including continued decline in smartphone growth, despite the emergence of 5G and foldable smartphones.