Global semiconductor sales reach record $US16.6 billion

Worldwide sales of semiconductors reached an all-time high in June, hitting $US16.6 billion, up 48.1 per cent over a year ago, according to a Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) report.

The semiconductor market covers a wide array of chips for different uses, including telephones, cellular phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and PCs. Memory chips, logic chips, flash chips and microprocessor chips are among those that comprise the market.

Overall market growth was driven by expansion of the global wireless market, the SIA said. Growth was strong in all geographic areas, with sales in Asia-Pacific reaching $4.26 billion, up 52.8 per cent, and Japan totaling $3.71 billion, up 50.8 per cent. In Europe, sales reached $3.44 billion, up 48.1 per cent. Sales in the Americas hit $5.23 billion, up 42.7 per cent.

The Flash chip product sector had particularly strong growth, up 167 per cent. Flash is used in cell phones and handheld computers. Field Programmable Logic Devices (FPLDs), found in telecommunications applications, enjoyed 106 per cent growth.

The SIA, which monitors the semiconductor market on a monthly basis, said in a separate mid-year forecast issued in June that it expects the most significant growth in the semiconductor market since the 1993-1995 period. Sales are expected to reached $195 billion by the end of 2000 and $312 billion by 2003.

"It is an overall continuation of a trend which will last through the end of next year," said Jim Cantore, a program manager in semiconductors at market researcher International Data Corp (IDC).

Wider global use of the Internet, PDAs and cell phones are spurring the growth, with the SIA noting that those devices are slowly catching up to the PC semiconductor market, which is, to this day, still the largest market.

In its forecast, the SIA asserts that the Americas will remain the world's largest market even if the Asia-Pacific and European markets are showing signs of tremendous growth.

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