Consumer devices to drive chip growth

Consumer devices to drive chip growth

Consumer devices, including mobile and Internet access appliances as well as automotive electronics, will drive growth in the semiconductor market going forward, several industry experts said during a panel discussion at a recent US semiconductor conference.

The semiconductor industry is emerging from a two-year market slump, part of an up-and-down cycle that started in the 1980s, to see great potential for growth in newer markets beyond the personal computer. The panel was part of the Industry Strategy Symposium in California, sponsored by the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) trade group.

From 1999 to 2003, the semiconductor industry is predicted to see a 20 per cent growth rate per year driven by "non-motherboard, non-PC applications" such as mobile devices, digital consumer appliances, automotive electronics and Internet access devices, said Jean-Philippe Dauvin, group vice president and chief economist with manufacturer ST Microelectronics.

"The semiconductor market, which bottomed out in July 1998 and has been recovering since, is forecast to have a minimum of 7 per cent growth for 1999, depending on the economy, capacity, and demand," Dauvin said.

"We're on the verge of an upswing, beginning this year" and continuing through 2001, said Stan Myers, president of the SEMI association. The result will be "larger wafers, higher yield, reduced cost and lower final consumer cost.

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