Worldwide semiconductor sales surged to a record high of $20.5 billion in August, led by memory chips, particularly DRAM (dynamic RAM) and NAND flash, the Semiconductor Industry Association said on Tuesday.

Strong PC sales helped boost both DRAM and microprocessor sales, the SIA said. And in a good sign for users, average selling prices for microprocessors fell 18 per cent compared to last year due to stiff competition between makers such as Intel and AMD.

Chips used in consumer electronics devices showed strong growth as producers began stocking up ahead of the important holiday season. The sharp decline in gasoline prices has also been an aid, the SIA noted, since consumers can spend their fuel savings on electronic devices instead. The global chip industry derives over half of its revenue from consumer products such as mobile phones, MP3 players and digital cameras.

The August sales record was an increase of 10.5 per cent over the same time last year, and 2.1 per cent better than July, when chip sales totaled $20.1 billion. The previous record for one-month worldwide chip sales was $20.4 billion, set in November of last year.

By region, sales achieved the following levels:

- Asia-Pacific: August sales, $9.58 billion; July sales, $9.39 billion; up 2 per cent
- Japan: August sales, $3.92 billion; July sales $3.86 billion; up 1.4 per cent
- Americas: August sales, $3.83 billion; July sales, $3.7 billion; up 3.6 per cent
- Europe: August sales, $3.21 billion; July sales $3.17 billion; up 1.3 per cent
- Total: August sales, $20.54 billion; July sales, $20.12 billion; up 2.1 per cent