SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co. is expected to maintain second place in the global semiconductor supplier ranking this year behind U.S. giant Intel Corp. despite a solid sales increase, an industry report showed Tuesday.

The South Korean tech giant was projected to log US$60.4 billion in chip sales this year, up 9 percent from a year earlier, to rank second among global semiconductor firms, according to the market researcher IC Insights.

Intel was expected to defend its top position with estimated sales of $73.8 billion, up 4 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.

Samsung, the world’s largest memory chip maker, was the leader in semiconductor sales in 2017 and 2018, thanks to a boom in the memory market, but relinquished its No. 1 spot to Intel last year.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s leading foundry firm, came in third in the list with $45.4 billion, up 31 percent from a year ago.

South Korea’s SK hynix Inc, the world’s No. 2 DRAM supplier, took the fourth spot with $26.4 billion, up 14 percent from a year earlier, followed by U.S. memory giant Micron Technology Inc. with $21.6 billion.

The top-15 semiconductor companies’ sales are forecast to increase by 13 percent this year to $355.4 billion compared with 2019, which is more than twice the expected total worldwide semiconductor industry increase of 6 percent, IC Insights said.

“The semiconductor industry has been one of the most resilient markets during this coronavirus plagued year,” it said. “Although causing a deep global recession in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred an acceleration of the worldwide digital transformation resulting in remarkably robust semiconductor market growth.”

Of its list of top-15 chip suppliers for 2020, eight companies were headquartered in the United States, two each in South Korea, Taiwan and Europe, and only one in Japan.