Worldwide sales of semiconductors defied cautious 2003 predictions to record a strong year-end tally, according to the latest figures from market watcher the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).
After a year of downbeat 'steady recovery' statistics, the SIA has revealed that yearly sales for 2003 totalled $166.4bn, up 18.3 per cent on the $140.8bn generated in 2002.
Revenues for the fourth quarter of $48.1bn were up 11 per cent on those in Q3 and up 28 per cent on Q4 2002. The second half of 2003 saw some of the strongest growth on record.
"The industry's broad upward momentum across all product sectors and geographic markets is driving us towards another year of strong double-digit growth, which is now expected to exceed 19 per cent in 2004," said SIA president George Scalise in a statement.
"The wireless sector continues to spearhead growth, but PC shipments also recovered in 2003 to an 11 per cent unit volume increase.
"We are experiencing a virtual revolution in global consumer markets as consumers adopt new technology and multi-functional smart devices, such as camera phones, PDAs and DVDs."
PC sales were a major contributor to Q4 growth, with processor and DRam revenues up almost 8 per cent and 10.6 per cent over Q3.
The global wireless market also proved to be a hotspot, growing 16 per cent in 2003, double the initial forecasts. In 2003's Q4, year-on-year volumes were up 20 per cent, with Digital Signal Processors rising 11.6 per cent and Flash up a healthy 29.3 per cent.
"The semiconductor market has certainly picked up," said Les Billing, managing director of system builder Microtronica.
"Most of the guys in the Far East are showing factories at capacity at the moment, and if you look at the chip equipment manufacturers you will see they are reporting a good book-to-bill ratio, which means more companies are buying the equipment needed to build more chips.
"This is always a good sign that things are looking better."
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