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Semiconductor Sales Gain in 2011, Decline in 4th Quarter

Westmere chip set (Intel Corp.)

(Intel Corp.)

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) in Washington, D.C. says worldwide semiconductor sales for 2011 reached a record $299.5 billion, an annual increase of 0.4 percent from $298.3 billion recorded in 2010. But sales for semiconductors at the end of 2011 dropped off compared to the same period in the previous year.

In the last quarter of 2011, semiconductor companies recorded $71.5 billion in sales, a drop of 5.3 percent compared to the same quarter in 2010, and a 7.7 percent decline from the third quarter of 2011. December 2011 sales totaled $23.8 billion, down from $25.2 billion in November.

Semiconductor revenues dropped most sharply in Europe for the fourth quarter of 2011, down 11.3 percent compared to the third quarter of 2011. Sales in the Americas and Japan declined less than half that percentage (5.4%) from the third to fourth quarters of 2011.

SIA says over the entire year of 2011 the industry experienced strong demand in optoelectronic, sensor, and microprocessor devices. Optoelectronic circuits that operate in response to or generate light waves, such as lamps or image sensors in cameras, reported a 6.4 percent increase in sales to $23.1 billion.

Sensors for converting temperature, pressure, or movement experienced a 15.5 percent increase to $8 billion worldwide sales. MEMS, or microelectromechanical systems which are increasingly included in smartphones and tablets were particularly strong, says SIA.

Microprocessors, like those used in devices with processing power such as PCs, registered a 7.5 percent gain in revenue to $65.2 billion in 2011. Strong demand in enterprise computing markets helped drive  microprocessor sales.

“Between the natural disasters in Japan and Thailand and the overall impact of a weak global economy,” says SIA’s president Brian Toohey, “2011 presented a number of major challenges for the semiconductor industry.” However, SIA says it expects 2012 to be a recovery year, fueled in part by several large semiconductor companies that announced plans for new facilities and R&D projects.

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