Samsung surpasses Intel as world's biggest chipmaker for the first time

  • Samsung Electronics surpassed Intel as the world's biggest chipmaker by revenue for the first time Wednesday.
  • The South Korean electronics giant's semiconductor division raked in 74.2 trillion won ($69.8 billion) in sales during 2017, compared to Intel's $62.7 billion.
  • Samsung was helped by a shortage of the chips it produces, which pushed prices higher.
Chung Sung-Jun | Getty Images

Samsung Electronics surpassed Intel as the world's biggest chipmaker by revenue for the first time Wednesday.

The South Korean electronics giant reported full year earnings that showed the semiconductor division raked in 74.2 trillion won ($69.8 billion) in sales during 2017.

In comparison, Intel's revenues stood at $62.7 billion at the end of 2017.

Samsung was helped by a shortage of the chips it produces, which pushed prices higher.

Intel and Samsung don't compete on all fronts. Intel's strength is in processors designed for desktop computers and laptops. Samsung makes semiconductors for a variety of devices from data center servers to smartphones. Its chip division boosted earnings in 2017 and now accounts for over two-thirds of the company's profits.

At the same time, Samsung is trying to branch out into areas such as automotive technology, where its chipsets could come in handy. And the company confirmed Wednesday that it is making hardware designed to mine cryptocurrencies.

Still, some analysts have expressed caution that the favorable pricing Samsung has seen may not last.

Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner, said in a note earlier this month that "memory pricing will weaken in 2018." "Samsung's lead is literally built on sand, in the form of memory silicon," Norwood said.