According to a new report, Apple now spends more money on semiconductors — like processors, memory, and solid-state storage — than any other company. Gartner Research has found that while Apple trailed both HP and Samsung in 2010, in 2011 its spending jumped by about 35 percent, putting it at the top of the list with $17.25 billion. Gartner's principal research analyst says that since semiconductor sales in 2011 were largely driven by smartphones, tablets, and solid-state drives, the growing popularity of Apple's iPhone and iPad account for much of the increase. Meanwhile, the success of the updated MacBook Air means that Apple spent more on PC semiconductors even when overall prices dropped. The only other major company that saw similar growth was Lenovo, which spent about 24 percent more on semiconductors last year.

Together, the top ten electronics makers accounted for 35 percent of semiconductor sales in 2011. HP and Samsung, despite dropping in rank, saw relatively small changes, with Samsung buying more and HP buying slightly less. Apple now leads both by about $600 million, its massive jump in spending giving some context to reports that the company is building a new facility in Israel that focuses on semiconductor development. With Apple's phones and tablets still gaining popularity and its aggressive deployment of 64GB devices, its demand for semiconductors probably won't be slowing any time soon.

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