SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co.’s market share in the global foundry industry is expected to increase in the first quarter of the year from the previous three months, a report showed Wednesday, though its growth was projected to be lower than the industry average amid high demand for chips.

Samsung’s foundry business was estimated to log a market share of 18 percent with revenue of US$4.05 billion in the January-March period, up 11 percent from a year earlier, according to a report from industry tracker TrendForce.

Samsung, also the world’s largest memory chip producer, was estimated to have taken a market share of 16.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“Samsung will continue to raise its semiconductor CAPEX this year, which is divided between its memory and foundry businesses and represents Samsung’s desire to catch up to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC),” TrendForce said. “With regards to process technologies, the Korean company’s capacity utilization rates for the 5-nanometer (nm) and 7nm nodes have been relatively high in the first quarter of 2021.”

This photo provided by Samsung Electronics Co. on May 21, 2020, shows the company’s chip plant in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

However, it was projected that Samsung was not able to significantly narrow the gap with the industry’s leading player TSMC, TrendForce report showed.

TSMC was expected to further expand its dominance in the first quarter with a market share of 56 percent, with its revenue soaring 25 percent on-year to $12.91 billion. TSMC was estimated to have logged a market share of 55.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“TSMC has been maintaining a steady volume of wafer inputs at its 5nm node, and these wafer inputs are projected to account for 20 percent of the company’s revenue,” TrendForce said. “On the other hand, owing to chip orders from AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm and MediaTek, demand for TSMC’s 7nm node is likewise strong and likely to account for 30 percent of TSMC’s revenue, a slight increase from the previous quarter.”

Another Taiwanese chipmaker, United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), was expected to take the No. 3 spot in the foundry market with a 7 percent share, with its revenue increasing 14 percent on-year to $1.6 billion in the first quarter.

South Korea’s DB HiTek Co. was estimated to rank 10th with a 1 percent market share, TrendForce said. Its revenue was projected to increase 4 percent on-year to $197 million in the first three months of 2020.

Overall, TrendForce expected the top 10 foundries to post strong earnings in the first quarter, with their combined revenue to increase 20 percent from a year earlier to $22.59 billion.

“As various end-products continue to generate high demand for chips, clients of foundries in turn stepped up their procurement activities, which subsequently led to a persistent shortage of production capacities across the foundry industry,” it said. “However, the future reallocation of foundry capacities still remains to be seen, since the industrywide effort to accelerate the production of automotive chips may indirectly impair the production and lead times of chips for consumer electronics and industrial applications.”