There were concerns about the global market for semiconductors worldwide back when 2013 dawned; the market had lost about 2.4 percent of its ground in the space between 2011 and 2012. But new reports from IHS (News - Alert) Technology make it clear; the worldwide semiconductor market seems to have bounced back, at least for now, thanks to a gain of 5 percent from 2012 into 2013.
The IHS Technology report showed revenue for the semiconductor market worldwide started out strong at $310.6 billion in 2011, but saw a drop in those numbers down to $303.1 billion in 2012. That had some worried going into 2013, but as the year went on, a pleasant point took place: the market saw $318.1 billion in revenue, not only reversing the losses sustained in 2012, but making for a gain on 2013. Even better was the revelation that fourth-quarter revenue—with the contributing factor of the Christmas shopping season that generally includes Kwanzaa and Hanukkah as well—was up 7.6 percent against the same time the previous year.
So what fueled this impressive growth? According to IHS Technology vice president Dale Ford, the biggest boost to the semiconductor market came from memory ICs, particularly dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. DRAM chips alone turned in a 32.5 percent upswing in revenue, as the demand picture was such that companies could get premium pricing. But DRAM wasn't alone, Ford noted, pointing out that NAND flash chips also made some big gains at 24.2 percent thanks to ongoing strong demand for both tablets and smartphones. The title of the report somewhat gives it away, as the report is titled “DRAM and NAND in Wireless Propel Global Semiconductor Growth in 2013.”
But it wasn't just NAND and DRAM in the picture here; field-effect transistors (FET) saw a gain of 21.3 percent, almost on par with NAND flash chips. The wireless communications market threw in a hefty gainer in the logic application-specific standard products (ASSP) line at 15.3 percent, while analog ASSPs in wireless made a similar gain at 13.5 percent. Wireless communications chipped in 13.1 percent, industrial electronics 9.4 percent, and finally, automotive electronics added gains with 5.7 percent.
When considering the trends of the last 18 months or so, the gains in semiconductors actually make quite a bit of sense. Two new consoles were released. A host of wearable devices emerged into the fore. The demand for smartphones and tablets is making headway especially when the global picture is concerned; it wasn't but a couple days ago we first heard about how mobile devices were contributing to what was being called a “reading revolution” in developing countries. Two new gaming consoles emerged in the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, as did several new smartphones. With a seemingly growing appetite for new devices, it's not surprising to see the semiconductors that help power said devices make gains as well.
Global chip revenue is clearly on the rise, and though it may not necessarily stay at that height, it will be interesting to see if the numbers can hold anywhere near the 2013 level going into 2014, and even beyond. Only time will tell just how it all turns out, but it's entirely possible that global semiconductor revenue may well hold its gains, and then some.
Edited by Maurice Nagle
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