That's largely down to undersupply in the memory market and that sector accounted for a third of semiconductor revenues last year.
Andrew Norwood, chip vice president at Gartner, said: “This is the first time Intel has been toppled since 1992.”
Intel was relegated into second position because of memory undersupply, and turned in revenues of $57,712,000,000, compared to Samsung's $61,215,000,000.
The number 10 players are Samsung, Intel, SK Hynix, Micron, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, Western Digital and NXP. Qualcomm is in the process of buying NXP, but Broadcom is bidding for Qualcomm.
But Samsung is unlikely to stay number one for long.
Norwood quipped: “Samsung's lead is literally built on sand, in the form of memory silicon. Memory pricing will weaken in 2018, initially for NAND flash and then DRAM in 2019 as China increases its memory production capacity.”
Intel managed to grow its revenue 6.7 percent in 2017, largely from data centre processor revenues. PC revenue only grew 1.9 percent but, Norwood said, average PC prices are expected to rise “after years of decline”, the fall largely due to people buying ultramobile and two-in-one devices. Intel missed the boat on ultramobiles some years back.