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The world continues to want more chips and that intense demand generated a 35.6 per cent hike in semiconductor sales in April.

According to the silicon industry's trade body, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), chip sales hit $15.2 billion, up from the $11.2 billion it recorded in April 1999.

Driving that growth is the mobile comms business, which generated a 193 per cent increase in Flash memory sales during the first four months of this year alone. The SIA described sales of chips for PCs and consumer electronics kit as "strong", but it's clear where the real money is right now: chips for cellphones.

Geographically, the Far East remains the world's biggest consumer of semiconductors, though that should surprise no one since so many of the world's electronics products are made there. April's sales to Asia-Pacific rose 46 per cent year on year. Japan saw 41.1 per cent growth, Europe 33.6 per cent and North America just 25.7 per cent.

And the prospect for continued growth looks good, said the SIA. The expansion of e-commerce, and sales of ever more mobile phones and - soon - portable Net access systems, such as wireless PDAs, will drive chip sales onwards and upwards. ®

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