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Report: Semiconductor industry enjoys skyrocketing growth

Makers of memory chips spearheaded a resurgence in worldwide semiconductor revenue, which rose 5 per cent year-over-year in 2013, according to IHS.

The research firm, formerly IHS iSuppli, on has released its annual semiconductor revenue report tracking sales for the top 25 global semiconductor suppliers, titled "DRAM and NAND in Wireless Propel Global Semiconductor Growth in 2013."

Makers of memory integrated circuits (ICs) like Micron and SK Hynix enjoyed booming years in 2013, according to IHS, while Qualcomm, MediaTek, and other semiconductor firms focused on supplying chips for mobile devices also saw impressive sales growth.

As a whole, the global semiconductor industry had revenues of $318.1 billion last year, up 5 per cent from $303.1 billion in 2012.

"Memory ICs were the key drivers of growth in the semiconductor industry in 2013," Dale Ford, vice president at IHS Technology, said in a statement. "Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) showed the strongest expansion among major memory segments, with revenue surging by 32.5 per cent as suppliers were able to achieve a balance between supply and demand that yielded lucrative pricing for parts. NAND flash also posted a strong year—at 24.2 per cent growth—as demand for the memory from smartphones and tablets continued to rise."

Intel again came in as the number 1 semiconductor company in the world with $47.4 billion in sales for 2013, though that was down nearly 1 per cent from the $47.4 billion the x86 giant reported the previous year. Intel's leading share of the 2013 semiconductor market was 14.8 per cent, followed by Samsung's 10.8 per cent after its semiconductor businesses posted sales of $33.8 billion, up 8.2 per cent from 2012.

Together, the top nine semiconductor firms in the world accounted for just more than 50 per cent of the total market last year, , according to IHS.

Related: A closer look at IBM's potential exit from semiconductor manufacturing.

Just as Intel and Samsung held on to their 2012 positions in terms of market share, so did Qualcomm remain in the third spot among global semiconductor companies. The supplier of application processors and communications chips for mobile devices and other equipment grew its revenue to $17.2 billion, up a healthy 30.6 per cent from $13.2 billion in 2012.

MediaTek, another supplier of mobile chipsets, enjoyed an even bigger sales bump in terms of percentage growth. The Taiwanese firm went from being the 18th largest semiconductor firm in 2012 to 14th in the world, on the strength of increasing its revenue 36.1 per cent year-over-year to $4.57 billion in 2013.

As Ford noted, some of the most impressive gains in 2013 were made by memory suppliers.

Micron, for example, became the fourth largest semiconductor company last year after finishing tenth in 2012. Part of Micron's big year-over-year revenue increase—up from 2012's $6.8 billion to $14.1 billion—was the result of the company's acquisition of Elpida Memory, but a 108.5 per cent revenue rise was impressive no matter how it was achieved.

SK Hynix finished the year just behind Micron in the number 5 spot after watching its own sales grow 42.8 per cent from $9.0 billion in 2012 to $12.8 billion last year, IHS reported.

Some other notable names in the semiconductor industry took a tumble in 2013. Advanced Micro Devices retained its 12th-place spot in the market but saw sales decrease 2.8 per cent compared with 2012, while Sony's semiconductor revenue fell 27.0 per cent after the Japanese consumer electronics giant.