Revenue in the global semiconductor market is forecast to increase 7.7 percent year-on-year to US$476 billion this year following a 5.4 percent increase last year, International Data Corp (IDC) said on Feb. 2.
The Framingham, Massachusetts-based research institute said the anticipated stronger growth this year reflects the effects of various COVID-19 vaccines being disseminated, with many economies beginning to open and recover gradually.
“The nature of the recovery will depend upon how quickly government stimulus plans stabilize the global macroeconomy and consumer confidence improves as vaccinations roll out around the world,” Mario Morales, a program vice president at IDC responsible for semiconductor market analysis, said in a statement.
Last year, the semiconductor industry experienced significant business volatility and uneven development in different segments within the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent measures taken to manage infections, including stay-at-home mandates, remote working, online education, travel restrictions and manufacturing shutdowns, the research institute said.
Despite the pandemic, the semiconductor market registered better-than-expected revenue of US$442 billion last year, thanks to the growth in cloud computing and demand for devices to support remote working and learning, it said.
The market for semiconductors in computing systems, such as PCs and servers, saw revenue outpace the overall semiconductor market, growing 10.9 percent year-on-year to US$152 billion last year, IDC said, projecting the revenue for this year to grow 6.3 percent to US$161 billion.
Smartphones were the second-largest demand driver for the semiconductor market last year on the back of accelerated growth in 5G phones, which demand higher-spec 5G semiconductors and more memory chips, sensors and radio frequency ICs, the research institute said, projecting mobile phone semiconductor revenue would grow 11.4 percent to US$128 billion this year after 3 percent growth last year.
However, the automotive and industrial semiconductor segments were significantly impacted by the pandemic last year, resulting in sales disruption and manufacturing disruptions, while trade policy impacted supply chains throughout the year, the IDC said.
While semiconductor content growth in vehicles continues to outpace vehicle unit sales growth due to more semiconductors being used to enable electrification, infotainment and connectivity, as well as advanced driver assistance systems, revenue in the automotive semiconductor sector decreased 8.4 percent to US$37 billion last year, and the segment’s recovery this year would depend on the rate of vaccinations and how effective the vaccinations are, it said.
IDC forecast that non-memory automotive semiconductor revenue would grow 12.6 percent this year.
“There are specific markets that remain on an upward trajectory and are essential to the recovery this year, including 5G, cloud, intelligent edge, and the dedicated foundry industry,” Morales said. “The first half of the year will also see some inventory digestion in the enterprise, cloud, and telco equipment market, but we do not expect it to derail the growth for the year.”
“Semiconductor technology remains critical across every industry on our journey to a sustainable recovery,” he said.
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