Computer manufacturers spent more on semiconductors last year than any other industry sector, with Compaq taking poll position as the number one chip buyer worldwide.
According to the latest figures from market research firm, Dataquest, the number one PC company spent $8.5 billion on processors in 1999, with IBM in second place after forking out about $5.9 billion.
But Dell followed closely behind IBM. Its strong growth in the PC market caused it to spend just short of $5.9 million last year too compared with $4 million in 1998. Hewlett-Packard came in fourth, acquiring about $5.5 billion worth of processors.
Ben Thompson, an analyst at Dataquest, said: "The worldwide PC industry continues to post double-digit growth, and the semiconductor companies are reaping the benefits as the top four purchasers of semiconductors spent more than $25.8 billion in 1999."
But he added: "Wireless technology is driving strong semiconductor sales in the communications market."
As a result, while computer manufacturers took the first five slots in the semiconductor spending table, the next four big spenders were communication companies.
Communications manufacturer Siemens came in at number five vendor, purchasing $4.9 billion worth of chips, followed by Motorola at $3.2 billion.
Ericsson was number seven vendor after spending $2.4 billion, followed by Nokia, Lucent and finally Intel at number 10.
Thompson said that chips were used most on a worldwide basis in data processing applications, followed by communications, automotive, industrial, consumer and military/aerospace.
"Although smaller than the computer or communications industries, tremendous growth opportunities abound in both digital consumer and automotive electronics," he said.
The adoption of DVD players was expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 45 per cent until 2003 for example, he explained.
"Likewise, semiconductor consumption in automotive navigation systems is expected to grow at 39 per cent through the same period," he added.
Dubbed Barnard's star B, newly discovered planet is believed to be rocky
Also, what's a USB stick?
Gravitational waves become extremely weak by the time they reach the Earth and require highly sensitive equipment for detection
The reactor topped out at 100 million° C