SAN JOSE, Calif. -- What a difference a year makes.
At last year's Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) here, the IC industry was suffering amid the recession and business was horrible. Now, at this year's event, the recovery is in full bore and business is booming for most chip makers.
Actually, in the spring of last year, the overall IC market hit the bottom and business began to gradually improve in the marketplace, said Steve Sanghi, Microchip Technology Inc.'s president and CEO.
''Until March (of 2009), the market was hemorrhaging,'' Sanghi told EE Times at ESC. ''March was the bottom.''
Overall, most--if not all--chip makers had a difficult campaign in 2009. Sales were down by an average of 40 percent for chip makers last year.
So far in 2010, however, it's been a different story. ''We're going to have a blowout year,'' Sanghi declared. ''The growth has been a surprise (in the semiconductor industry so far this year). It has almost surprised everyone.''
Demand for analog devices, microcontrollers and other chips have been strong, he said. There are shortages and extended lead times for select products.
Sanghi did not provide an overall forecast for the IC industry, but he made references to Microchip's recent announcement, in which the company raised its forecast.
It expects net sales for its fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 ending March 31, 2010 to be up about 8 percent sequentially. Microchip expects GAAP diluted earnings per share to be approximately 37 cents. On Feb. 3, 2010, Microchip provided guidance of net sales increasing 3-to-7 percent sequentially and GAAP diluted earnings per share of approximately 34 to 36 cents.
So what's driving the upturn and what are some of the warning signs?