Semiconductor Industry Hot Topics

News from the semiconductor industry this week certainly sparked conversation across mainstream media.

Semiconductor Sales
The Semiconductor Industry Association released data indicating that March global semiconductor sales were up slightly from February. According to SIA, semiconductor sales were $14.7 billion in March, an increase of 3.3 percent from February.

But SIA reported sales for the first quarter of 2009 were $44.0 billion, a 29.9 percent decline from the first quarter of 2008 when sales were $62.8 billion. Sales declined by 15.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 when sales were $52.2 billion.

All geographic regions except Japan showed growth from February to March.

SIA President George Scalise said that the modest increase “suggests that demand has stabilized somewhat” but at lower levels than last year. “While all major product sectors showed month-on-month growth, there continues to be limited visibility in end markets.”

Scalise said he expects stimulus efforts in the U.S. and abroad should impact semiconductor sales in 2010.

Apple To Design Chips?
The Wall Street Journal and other publications reported Thursday that Apple is building up capacity to design its own chips. WSJ called it a “strategy shift that the company hopes will create exclusive features for its gadgets and shield Apple’s work from rivals.”

Reports surfaced indicating Apple has ramped up its chip design talent with hires from chip maker Advanced Micro Devices, Raja Koduri and Bob Drebin, as well as former Cisco Systems senior vice president Cliff Meltzer, according to WSJ.

Wireless Week reported that “Apple likely would use the chips to reduce power consumption and improve graphics, according unnamed sources cited in the Journal.”

“The general state of the industry continues to pose a challenge for semiconductor companies,” and the news of Apple’s chip team is no exception, Wireless Week said.

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