Chip sales climb on consumer demand

Sept. 2, 2008 – Worldwide semiconductor sales have picked up a little, thanks to continued strong demand for consumer electronics, PCs, and cell phones, and despite continuing softness in the memory sector, according to the latest data from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

Global chip sales totaled $22.18B, improving on June’s flat performance with a ~3% M-M increase, and a 7.6% rise Y-Y. Minus the still-soft memory segment, chip sales maintained ~12% Y-Y growth and were up 3.2% from the previous month. For the first seven months of 2008, chip sales totaled $148.3B, up about 5% from the same period in 2007.

By region, the Americas was the only one to see a decline M-M; Europe was essentially flat, while Japan and Asia-Pacific both rose 4%. Compared with a year ago, the Asia-Pacific region is doing quite well, while both Europe and Japan managed small single-digit growth, and the Americas again show a decline (nearly -4%). The moving three-month average, though, shows Japan in the negative, likely due to the timing of its March fiscal year-close.

Propping the chip growth is demand for consumer-oriented products like LCD TVs (shipments projected to increase 32% this year), digital set-top boxes, and digital still cameras (20% shipment growth each), noted SIA president George Scalise in a statement. PC unit growth is still pegged at ~13%, with another >10% for cell phones. And another boost came from the 3.3% growth in US GDP in the second quarter, with “continued strength in world markets,” he added.

Scalise also highlighted a “significant crossover” seen in 2Q08, whereby for the first time 300mm wafers accounted for the largest share of wafer manufacturing capacity (44%) and actual wafers processed (47%). Overall capacity utilization remains high at 89% and >95% for leading-edge processes, he added.


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