Chip sales rise 6.5% despite COVID-19 issues

03 February 2021
Fourth quarter sales of $117.5 billion were 8.3% more than the total from the fourth quarter of 2019 and 3.5% higher than the total from third quarter of 2020. Source: WSTS

The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic caused supply chain issues that impacted nearly every industry and continues to generate problems for some including with recent problems with automotive semiconductors.

Yet despite these problems, the global semiconductor sales increased 6.5% to $439.0 billion compared to the 2019 total of $412.3 billion, according to data from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

Fourth quarter sales of $117.5 billion were 8.3% more than the total from the fourth quarter of 2019 and 3.5% higher than the total from the third quarter of 2020. Sales are compiled by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization and represents a three-month moving average.

“Global semiconductor sales increased moderately on an annual basis in 2020, weathering a challenging macroeconomic environment brought on by the pandemic and other factors,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO of the SIA. “While global demand for semiconductors is on the rise, the share of global chip production done in the U.S. has declined from 37% in 1990 to 12% today, and that disparity will only intensify without U.S. government action to level the global playing field.”

The disruption in the supply chain caused by COVID is one of the reasons the U.S. government, industry and trade organizations are looking to bring chip manufacturing back domestically. This is something the SIA is lobbying for as well in helping companies and Congress develop legislation to further domestic chip manufacturing investments.

Neuffer said the U.S. government must fund incentives for domestic chip manufacturing and investments in chip research for the country to remain competitive, strengthen the economy, increase national security, ensure critical infrastructure and benefit from growing demand for more semiconductors.

Regionally, sales in the Americas increased annually by 19.8% in 2020 while China remained the largest individual market for semiconductors with sales totaling $151.7 billion in 2020, an increase of 5.0%. Annual chip sales also increased in Asia Pacific but decreased in Europe.

Among product segments, logic and memory stood out as the largest semiconductor categories by sales with $117.5 billion and $117.3 billion, respectively. Sales of logic products increased by 10.3% compared to 2019 while sales of memory products were up 10.2%. Specifically, NAND flash products increase 23.1% to $49.5 billion in 2020 and micro-ICs increased 4.8% to $69.9 billion in 2020.

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