Gartner: 2005 chip sales rise to highest level since tech boom
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Worldwide semiconductor sales will rise 6.9 percent to a record $235 billion in 2005, surpassing the previous high mark set at the tail end of the high-tech boom five years ago, the research firm Gartner Inc. said Friday.Intel Corp. remained the No. 1 chip maker, with sales that rose 14.3 percent – twice the industry average. Its sales were driven by growth in its microprocessor business as well as notebook computer chips that carry a premium price.But the overall industry’s growth was spurred largely by demand for memory, said Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner. Especially strong was NAND flash memory found in consumer gadgets such as music players, digital cameras and portable storage devices.”The continuing strong demand for flash card and USB flash drives in 2005, along with the successful launch of the iPod Shuffle by Apple … and the release later in the year of the iPod Nano, will drive this device market to the highest revenue performance in 2005,” he said.Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. held the No. 2 position on the overall list after Intel and continues to be the No. 1 supplier of memory chips, including flash and dynamic random access memory used in personal computers.In fact, NAND has become such a hot commodity that Intel and Micron Technology Inc. announced plans to form a joint venture to produce the chips. Previously, Intel has focused only on NOR flash, which is found mainly in cell phones.Norwood cautioned that while NAND flash has driven new sales, that also means semiconductor makers are now more vulnerable to the whims of the consumer market.The previous semiconductor sales record, $223 billion, was set in 2000. In 2004, Gartner reported worldwide chip sales of $220 billion.