Personal computers (PC)

Chip sales had a record 2018, but a slowdown looms

Manufacturing a semiconductor wafer.
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.

CEO Lisa Su on building the new AMD

AMD CEO Lisa Su
Lisa Su holds up AMD's next-generation graphics chip for the data center. Photo: AMD

AMD founder Jerry Sanders was fond of flashy suits and boasted of his manufacturing prowess. "Real men have fabs," he would say, referring to the costly chipmaking plants that AMD operated.

Current CEO Lisa Su presides over a very different AMD. It's one that still aims to rival Intel in powering the world's most capable computers, as it did under Sanders — but Su's AMD focuses on design and strategy, leaving the actual manufacturing to partners like foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing.