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Manufacturing a semiconductor wafer. Photo: Alfredo Sosa/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

Global chip sales rose nearly 14% last year to a record $468.8 billion, according to new numbers from the Semiconductor Industry Association. However, growth slowed significantly in the second half as the industry enters what appears to be a period of slower growth.

Why it matters: Chips are at the heart of all manner of electronics, from phones and PCs to broader markets like cars and appliances. Plus, unlike the gear they end up in, a significant number of semiconductors are not only designed in the U.S. but also manufactured here.

  • Chip sales growth is seen slowing to just 2.6% this year, according to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics organization.
  • "We may be moving into a cyclical period [where we are] experiencing slower growth," SIA CEO John Neuffer said in an interview. But he added that the industry's long-term outlook is "very strong" as more chips go into more products.

Slowing growth: Several factors are weighing on the chip business, beyond the fact that it is a cyclical industry that has boomed for the last couple of years. In particular, there are concerns that the U.S.-China trade dispute as well as a slowing domestic Chinese market for consumer electronics could be hurting business.

  • "We want this to get resolved," Neuffer said. "We want the tariffs to get lifted."
  • Ideally, he said, the issues would be resolved in a way that increases intellectual property protections, a key concern for the U.S. high tech community.

By the numbers:

  • Total chip unit shipments topped 1 trillion for the first time.
  • Memory was the largest and fastest growing type of semiconductor, with sales up 27.4% to $158 billion.
  • Sales in 2018 rose in every region, led by China, where sales were up 20% for the year.

Go deeper: Computer chips are still "Made in USA"

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.