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.
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.
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.