The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), representing U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and design, has said global semiconductor sales for 2011 reached a record $299.5 billion, a year-on-year increase of 0.4 percent from the $298.3 billion recorded in 2010. Also of note is that 51% of the total is sales from U.S.-based companies.
Worldwide semiconductor sales in December amounted to $23.8 billion, a decrease of 5.5 percent from the month prior. Fourth quarter sales of $71.5 billion represent a 7.7 percent decline from the immediate prior quarter, and a 5.3 percent decrease over the same period in 2010. All monthly sales numbers represent a 3-month moving average.
“Between the natural disasters in Japan and Thailand and the overall impact of a weak global economy, 2011 presented a number of major challenges for the semiconductor industry. Despite these setbacks the industry showed resiliency and posted year on year growth with record-breaking revenues for 2011,” said Brian Toohey, president, Semiconductor Industry Association.
“The health of the industry is a direct reflection of the pervasiveness of semiconductor innovations and their applications in almost every aspect of modern society,” he said.
The industry saw strong demand in several areas, especially the optoelectronic, sensor and actuator, and microprocessor markets showed strong year over year growth. Lamps and image sensors drove growth in the optoelectronic market to $23.1 billion, a 6.4% increase over 2010. Optoelectronic applications bring energy efficiency and low cost in a wide range of products including mobile devices and cameras.
Sensors and actuators - the smallest semiconductor market segment - had the highest year over year growth at 15.5% to $8 billion in 2011. Sensor technology which can be used to convert temperature, pressure or acceleration into electrical signals is growing as an application in consumer electronics, medical devices and automotive systems to improve safety and efficiency. Continued growth for sensors is in the application of MEMS, or microelectromechanical systems which are increasingly included in smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, and numerous other consumer electronic products.
MOS Microprocessors, part of the integrated circuit category, mostly used in PCs and other devices that need processing capabilities also saw year-over-year growth, with an increase of 7.5 percent in revenue to $65.2 billion making it the second largest semiconductor market segment for 2011, behind Logic. Strong demand in the enterprise computing segment drove microprocessor sales.
This year, the industry is expected to see more recovery from increased demand across a broad range of end market segments combined with the delayed sales impact from the supply chain disruptions in the second half of 2011. Additionally, several large semiconductor companies announced plans for new facilities and new R&D projects that will serve to fuel the industry’s long-term growth expectations.
“This year our industry will invest billions in capital expenditures and in R&D, which will pay off both in the short and long term. In fact, reinvesting a large percentage of revenues is a hallmark of the industry. It’s this combination of R&D investment, top engineering talent, high exports and cutting-edge advances that have made the semiconductor industry a cornerstone of the innovation economy,” Toohey added.