For the 20th consecutive year, Intel was the world's biggest chipmaker in 2011, with a commanding lead over No. 2 rival, Samsung Electronics, market research firm Gartner estimated.

Full-year sales inched up less than 1 percent to about $302 billion, the firm said, largely echoing actual statistics compiled by the Semiconductor Industry Association. Last month, the SIA predicted 2012 growth would be 3.7 percent.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel, whose microprocessors dominate the PC industry and also command the market in advanced servers used for the cloud, should report revenue around $51.1 billion, up 21.6 percent from 2010, Gartner said.

Samsung should report 2011 revenue of $29.15 billion, up only 3.7 percent; followed by Texas Instruments, with $12.08 billion, up 1.7 percent; Toshiba, at $11.7 billion, down 5.4 percent and Renesas Electronics, at $10.7 billion, up 5 percent.

Renesas is the Japanese semiconductor giant resulting from the merged of the chip lines of NEC, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric.

The other five top chipmakers are Qualcomm, based in San Diego; STMicroelectronics, the Geneva-based chipmaker; Hynix Semiconductor of South Korea; Micron Technology, of Boise, Ida., and Broadcom, based in Irvine, Calif.

The U.S.-based companies have not reported full-year results yet but have not announced guidance materially different than when they reported third-quarter results.

Gartner said Samsung benefited from two major trends: its close supply relationship to Apple, for which it supplies the A5 processor used in the iPhone 4S as well as the iPad2 tablet, as well as its position in the NAND flash market. Flash memory chips are growing in demand as traditional DRAM chips are phasing out.

A beneficiary of the shift was SanDisk, the Milpitas, Calif.-developer of flash memory devices for all kinds of electronic devices, Gartner said. Its 2011 revenue is projected to have risen 33.5 percent.

Indeed the declines in DRAM prices impacted Micron, the only remaining U.S. memory chipmaker aside from IBM, Hynix and Elpida, another Japanese giant, Gartner said.

Chip stocks didn't have a good 2011. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Sector Index of the principal U.S. players fell slightly for the year during which the S&P 500 was flat; in early Tuesday trading it rose 2.3 percent to 372.71.