After years of dominance by Intel followed by a more recent battle for supremacy with Samsung, the crown for the biggest silicon chip manufacturer has finally been claimed by industry stalwart TSMC.
Having for years been the producer of chip designs by AMD, Apple, Intel, Nvidia, and many other companies, the imaginatively named Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC) has produced many of the best gaming CPUs and GPUs for a long time. However, with Intel dominating the broader processor market and Samsung producing masses of mobile and memory chips, it’s only now TSMC has finally taken the top spot.
The news comes amid a slight downturn in fortunes for all three companies during 2023, but TSMC has been hit the least, with its sales hitting $69.3 billion for the year, which compares to $63 billion for Intel and $58 billion for Samsung. While the likes of GPUs such as the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Super will certainly account for a chunk of that revenue, the bulk comes from many other sources, with AI set to become a huge revenue-driver for all silicon fabrication plants.
If you’re wondering where AMD and Nvidia factor into this, they’re known as fabless chip design companies whereby they only design the CPUs and GPUs they produce, with the likes of Intel, GlobalFoundries (which used to be part of AMD), Samsung, and TSMC producing their chips.
Indeed, a large part of the reason why graphics cards became so expensive during the pandemic was because these fabs were busy producing other sorts of chips, such as for the motoring and mobile industry. That’s also partly why we’ve not seen a significant reduction in prices since then as demand for chips continues to be huge, with the massive wave of AI-enabled products and dedicated AI server chips set to take up a big chunk of manufacturing capacity.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though, with AMD and Nvidia currently battling it out with price drops across their ranges, following the launch of the RTX Super series. We’ve seen the RX 7900 XTX price drop in response to the RTX 4080 Super, alongside the RTX 7900 XT dropping to compete with the RTX 4070 Ti Super, and we’ll not doubt get more discounts in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, check out our best graphics card guide to see what TSMC chips are coming out on top.