Semiconductor sales still growing

Let’s hear it for the global economy. Global sales of semiconductors for the first half of 2008 grew 5.4 percent over the same period in 2007, to $127.5 billion, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). June sales were up by eight percent over June 2007 and up 0.5 percent from May 2008 sales.

It’s the so-called “emerging markets” – Latin America, Russia, India, China, and eastern Europe – that are driving things while the U.S. sputters thanks to its economic woes. In 2008, developing countries will account for half of worldwide PC sales, around 153 million units.  

Mobile devices are growing even faster, accounting for 66 percent of total worldwide unit sales of over 1.3 billion, up from 61 percent last year. Chips for mobile phones made up about 20 percent of total semiconductor sales this year so far, while PCs accounted for 40 percent of sales.

 The emergence of large middle-class populations in China, India, Eastern Europe, and Latin America has more than offset the effects of slower growth in the U.S. economy. We expect that demand for consumer electronic products in these new markets will continue to outpace growth in developed markets for the next several years.���

For the year so far, the U.S. is up only 2.8 percent, while Europe is up 5.1 percent, Japan (considered a mature market and thus excluded from Asia/Pacific figures) rose 2.8 percent, and Asia/Pacific gained 12.9 percent.

It’s not all rosy, however. Memory prices continue to suffer due to the vast oversupply. The cost of 1 gigabit of DRAM has declined by 43 percent during the past year, while the price of 2 gigabits of NAND flash has declined by 61 percent in the last year.  

That’s good for consumers, of course. Micron estimates that the memory content of the average PC will increase at least 50 percent this year, while the memory content in the average cell phone will increase by more than 150 percent. There has also been rumor of a 64GB iPod Touch from Apple later this year. Gotta do something with all that flash memory.

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