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Worldwide semiconductor revenues increased more than 24% year over year to $282 billion in 2010, according to the latest version of the International Data Corp. (IDC) semiconductor application forecaster (SAF). The company now expects the worldwide semiconductor revenues to increase by 6% - 8% this year.

The industry recovery was strong and broad last year across all market verticals, regions, and semiconductor device categories. Device applications, such as smartphones, media tablets and e-readers, automotive infotainment, notebook PCs, datacenter servers, and wireless and wired communication infrastructure, drove robust consumption of semiconductors. IDC's SAF tracks more than 100 semiconductor companies, most of which experienced strong growth in 2010.

Intel, with total semiconductor revenues of $41.9 billion in 2010, once again was the overall market leader. Samsung was the number 2 vendor overall with revenues of $27.6 billion, which increased its semiconductor revenue market share by 2% over 2009. Rounding out the top 5 chip suppliers were Texas Instruments, Toshiba, and Hynix. Renesas Electronics, the merged company of Renesas and NEC, was the number 6 vendor overall, just missing the top 5. Together, the top 10 vendors represented 51% of the overall market revenues, an increase of 6% over 2009.

Many companies grew revenues substantially over the industry average. Among them were memory, analog, and microcontroller vendors, in addition to many that serve the communication and consumer market segments. Notable small-medium sized companies experiencing strong growth in 2010 were Trident Microsystems, Spreadtrum Communications, NetLogic, Aptina, Seoul Semiconductor, ICERA, Cavium, and Atheros. Apple, with its semiconductor revenues coming from A4 chips, experienced year-over-year growth of more than 130% in 2010.

Within the semiconductor device types, more and more data processing and communication chips are being designed for specific applications.

"There is a definite migration to Smart System on a Chip (SSoCs) as device applications move to embrace high-level operating systems, connectivity, and application processing capabilities," said Mali Venkatesan, research manager, Semiconductors at IDC, who led the study and compiled the SAF results.

Asia/Pacific, with 51% share and about 30% year-over-year revenue growth coming primarily from China, once again was the leading region for semiconductor consumption in 2010. Growth in the Americas was very strong (48%), while Japan was far below the industry average.

Among the vertical markets for semiconductor consumption, the Computing segment was still the largest at 39% of the overall market, followed by Communications with 28%. Revenue grew above the industry average for Computing, Communications, and Industrial segments, while explosive demand for e-readers and media tablets helped temper otherwise lackluster year-over-year growth of 13.3% for the Consumer segment. The Automotive sector, coming off the steep declines in 2009, saw substantial year-over-year growth of 39% in 2010, due to increasing vehicle sales both in the U.S. and in BRIC countries and growth in in-vehicle electronics and semiconductor content in mainstream cars and hybrid vehicles.

Driven by industry consolidation and competition, several companies disappeared from the 2010 list (e.g., NEC Electronics, Numonix, and Silicon Storage Technologies).

"But overall, the semiconductor market saw one of its best years in 2010, with many leading companies able to grow both top line revenues and cash position. We expect M&A to be the key theme for 2011, as small- and medium-size companies become potential targets, with many more to come later this year. Based on the historical semiconductor revenue trends, projected overcapacity in foundries in late 2H11, and current macroeconomic problems (the earthquake in Japan, continued high unemployment in the U.S., high U.S. debt, and global inflation fears), we expect 2011 semiconductor revenue growth to be in the 6-8% range," added Mr. Venkatesan.

Tags: IDC, Semiconductor, Business

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