Gartner, one of the electronic industry's top marketing data firms, claims that the fastest-growing market for semiconductor sales is in the automotive industry. Despite little growth in total vehicles sales, the per-vehicle chip count continues to skyrocket. That shouldn't be surprising to most automotive enthusiasts, but the average car shopper probably doesn't realize the number of electronic components that get stuffed into every nook and cranny of a new automobile. High-end digital signal processing is required by entertainment systems such as satellite radio, and the proliferation of high-speed data networks means that tranceivers and smaller microcontrollers are found even in mundane components such as power window lift motors and vehicle speed sensors. Motorola spin-off Freescale is used as an example of this growth, having posted a 17% improvement in sales last year. Overall, Gartner states that automotive chip sales will grow approximately twice as fast as the general market in the next five years. If hybrids continue to increase in popularity, that estimate may be much too conservative.
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