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IDC: Growth ahead for wireless chip sales

According to a new report, WLAN semiconductor revenue will jump to $3 billion by 2009--up from $1.2 billion last year.

Consumer interest in wireless devices is expected to fuel growth in the market for semiconductors for wireless LANs, according to a new report.

According to the report, released Monday by market researcher IDC, WLAN semiconductor revenue will jump to $3 billion by 2009 from $1.2 billion last year. Such a jump would represent a compound annual growth rate of 21 percent. The number of WLAN chips shipped will reach 487 million units by 2009, the market researcher said.

Growth in the sale of components using will mainly be driven by a surge in consumer wireless and mobile devices, as well as emerging technologies such as MIMO that can extend the bandwidth and range of devices, IDC said. MIMO, short for "multiple input, multiple output," allows the use of more than one antenna to send and receive two or more unique data streams over the same channel at the same time.

On the gadget side, wireless networking features are becoming more prominent in devices such as game consoles, set-top boxes and digital TVs, along with mobile phones.

The challenge for makers of wireless networking chips will be to stand apart from their rivals.

"Increased competition and advanced chip integration will continue to create intense pricing pressure in the WLAN market," Celeste Crystal, senior research analyst at IDC, said in a statement. Opportunities for differentiation will be in areas such as power consumption and Internet telephony, she said.

For 2004, Broadcom was the top seller of WLAN semiconductors, as ranked by revenue, IDC said. The others in the top five, in descending order, were Atheros, Intel, Conexant/GlobespanVirata and Texas Instruments.