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1999 a record year for chip sales

Net drives up demand for silicon after late 90s' downturn

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The world clearly can't get enough silicon, as demand for products made out of it shows. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), global sales of semiconductors hit a record $149 billion during 1999, an increase of 19 per cent on the previous year. The big sellers were memory chips and embedded processors targeted at communications and Internet applications, the SIA said, pushing way ahead of traditional bestsellers like PC microprocessors. So while December 1999's chip sales were up 23 per cent on the December 1998's figures, PC processors accounted for only 25 per cent of the total number of chips shipped, down from around 50 per cent in 1995, when records began. Last December's chip sales totalled $14.7 billion, up from $14.2 billion in November. Flash memory sales hit $4.6 billion during 1999, an increase of 83 per cent on the previous year. The DRAM market grew 48 per cent to $20.7 billion, despite the autumn's supply issues caused by the Taiwan earthquake. Of course, after a ropy 1998 and the dips in sales seen since 1996, the fact that the arrival of a big new market -- the Internet -- should drive silicon sales up again by such a degree shouldn't surprise anyone. The SIA reckons that the degree of growth seen in 1999 will continue over the next couple of years, with sales increasing 20 per cent this year and 21 per cent in 2001, as demand for mobile comms kit and Net access devices continue to drive the market. Cellphone shipments will reach one billion units in 2003, the SIA predicts, up from 200 million last year. In 1999, 200 million PCs and Internet access items shipped, too, but the SIA believes that will grow to just 700 million units in 2003. ®

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