The COVID-19 pandemic caused plenty of chaos around the world in 2020. That’s especially true for the semiconductor industry. In the early months, production was severely affected as plants shut down and governments imposed strict stay-at-home orders. However, the latter half of the year was characterized by a strong rebound and increased demand for components.
Ups and Downs
It’s no secret that 2020 presented many challenges for the semiconductor industry. From component and material shortages to factory shutdowns, there were numerous barriers to a year of growth. Even so, the industry persevered and made 2020 a positive year in terms of sales.
That’s partially thanks to a huge fourth quarter, which saw $117.5 billion in sales. That marks an 8.3 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2019. It is also 3.5 percent higher than last year’s third quarter.
December alone saw a significant spike, accounting for $39.2 billion—an 8.3 percent increase over the same month in 2019.
SIA president and CEO John Neuffer said in a press release, “Global semiconductor sales increased moderately on an annual basis in 2020, weathering a challenging macroeconomic environment brought on by the pandemic and other factors.”
U.S. Loses Ground
While the global semiconductor industry enjoyed growth during 2020, the same cannot be said for the U.S. market. Neuffer notes that the country’s share of global chip production has dropped to just 12 percent—down more than 25 percent since 1990.
He says, “…that disparity will only intensify without U.S. government action to level the global playing field. It’s imperative the federal government fully fund incentives for domestic chip manufacturing and investments in chip research so the U.S. can benefit from growing demand and produce more semiconductors needed to strengthen our economy, national security, and critical infrastructure.”
In regional terms, however, the Americas market saw an annual sales increase of 19.8 percent in 2020. That wasn’t nearly enough for it to compete with China, but it is a good sign nonetheless.
Unsurprisingly, China is still the largest market for semiconductors. It accounted for $151.7 billion in sales, about 35 percent of the global market share.
Certain trends throughout 2020 drove sales in particular segments of the semiconductor industry to new heights. Logic and memory were the largest categories in terms of sales, accounting for $117.5 billion and $117.3 billion respectively. Both segments saw annual growth of just over 10 percent.
Meanwhile, NAND flash products had a strong showing thanks to heightened consumer demand for new laptops and gaming consoles. The segment accounted for $49.5 billion in 2020, a 23.1 percent annual increase.
Finally, micro-IC sales jumped by 4.8 percent for a total of $69.9 billion in 2020 sales.
Overall, the semiconductor industry rebounded strongly from a difficult start to the year. That positive momentum should carry into 2021 as consumers demand even more devices and companies look for new ways to digitalize their operations.