Earlier this year, Samsung expanded into mass producing ASIC chips for bitcoin mining, and the move is already paying off.
Samsung had a blockbuster first quarter, as evidenced by the fourth straight quarter of record performance for operating income, the catalyst for which was demand for chips used in bitcoin mining. Samsung’s semiconductor business shined amid strong demand for graphic memory chips that helped to offset “a weak smartphone market.”
For the first quarter, Samsung reported an operating profit of 15.64 trillion Korean won, or $14.45 billion. Revenue of 60.56 trillion Korean won was fueled by Samsung’s memory chip sales.
“In the semiconductor business, earnings increased significantly year-over-year thanks to favorable memory market conditions driven by a strong demand for server and graphic memory as well as earnings improvements in both System LSI and foundry businesses led by increasing demand for chips used in flagship smartphones and cryptocurrency mining,” according to Robert M. Yi, executive vice president of investor relations on Samsung’s earnings call.
SeWon Chun, senior vice president of Samsung’s semiconductor business for memory, echoed that sentiment, saying “for graphics … total demand increased thanks to strong demand from graphics cards and cryptocurrency mining.”
Here are some of the highlights –
- In the foundry business, where cryptocurrencies are grouped, “earnings grew as orders increased for high-performance computing chips.”
- For Q2, earnings growth is expected to persist fueled by “increased supply of 10nm products and high-performance computing chips”
- For the second half 2018, a focus of the foundry business is to “diversify the consumer base”
Fiercely Competitive Market Landscape
Samsung’s foundry business will be a bright spot in Q2 thanks to an expansion in “supply of 10-nanometer processors and cryptocurrency mining chips.” However, weakness in smartphone components may weigh on earnings results next quarter.
Samsung also provided its outlook for the second half of 2018, which it expects to be better than the first half fueled by its component business. Yi pointed to “strong DRAM demand.
Samsung competes with Taiwan Semi in the ASIC market for bitcoin mining. Taiwan Semi is the supplier to mining giants like Bitmain and Canaan Creative, and revenue from this market reportedly bolstered the ASIC chip maker’s quarterly sales by between $350 million and $450 million, according to Tech Crunch. Samsung keeps its chip-mining revenue details close to the vest in this fiercely competitive market segment.
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