Paul van Gerven
27 January

For the first time in history, TSMC is a bigger chipmaker than Intel. After a painful revenue drop of 32 percent in Q4, the processor maker’s full-year revenue came in at 63.1 billion dollars in 2022, down 20 percent year-on-year. TSMC’s revenue, on the other hand, grew almost a third to 75.9 billion dollars. Samsung already surpassed Intel in 2021 and managed to maintain that lead despite a lackluster memory market in 2022.

Intel has been top dog in the semiconductor industry for most of the century, until it started to slip around 2017. Having been over-ambitious in its technology roadmap, along with a slow adoption of EUV lithography compared to its peers, the company forfeited technological leadership to TSMC. Additionally, the once X86-dominated leading-edge semiconductor landscape has become a much more varied ecosystem. Arm, GPU and other architectures are slowly encroaching on Intel’s bread and butter.

Intel Atom
Credit: Intel

CEO Pat Gelsinger isn’t taking the beating lying down. After assuming control of the company in 2021 he went on the offensive, fast-tracking the roadmap, introducing a foundry business and announcing two major greenfield fab investments. Weak PC and laptop sales, which are in a lull following a pandemic-fueled buying frenzy, are now undercutting this ambitious – and capital-intensive – comeback.

But Gelsinger is not backing down yet. “In 2023, we will continue to navigate the short-term challenges while striving to meet our long-term commitments,” he said in a statement. “Yes, we realize that we stumbled, right? We lost share. We lost momentum. We think that stabilizes this year, and we’re going to be building a roadmap that allows us to regain leadership for the long term in this critical market,” he added during a call with investors.

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Even before the publication of the financial results, it has been suggested that Intel is backtracking on the build of a fab in Magdeburg, Germany. General manager EMEA Frans Scheper, however, this week said that Intel is “100 percent committed” to the project.