In fiscal 1995, sales of electron devices increased 18 percent, to 774.5 billion yen ($8,902 million), accounting for 21 percent of net sales. Semiconductors for such products as PCs, networking devices, and mobile communications equipment posted strong sales gains both in Japan and overseas, with particularly brisk sales of memory devices for PCs. Also, high demand for TFT color LCDs supported growth in domestic and overseas sales of electronic components.
In addition to continued rapid expansion of the market for memory devices, demand for advanced microcomputers and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) is likely to grow further as the use of multimedia applications becomes more common. In response to this situation, NEC continued to increase its semiconductor production capacity during fiscal 1995. At NEC Kyushu, Ltd., in Japan, we began operation of a state-of-the-art diffusion line employing 0.35-micron processing technology. Overseas, we began construction of a factory with similar technological capabilities in the United Kingdom. We also boosted the production capacity of our plant in Roseville, California, and inaugurated our first integrated semiconductor production line in China.
During fiscal 1995, NEC continued to increase its production of 4Mbit DRAMs both in Japan and overseas to meet strong worldwide demand. We also boosted our 16Mbit DRAM production capacity in response to strong demand for high-capacity memories.
In February 1995, we unveiled the world's first prototype 1Gbit DRAM, reinforcing our leading position in the competitive memory market. We are working to commercialize this product within the next few years for such potential applications as video-on-demand.
During fiscal 1995, NEC announced the successful development of a 1Gbit DRAM. This leading-edge device is suitable for a wide range of multimedia applications.
NEC introduced the V851 32-bit microcontroller in response to strong demand for multifunctional, high-performance microcomputers, the single-chip microcomputers that control such devices as cellular phones, portable data terminals, and hard disk drives. Based on the same proprietary RISC architecture as NEC's successful V810 32-bit microprocessor, the V851 is the world's fastest single-chip microcomputer and is capable of processing performance that previously required a separate digital signal processor.
In response to growing demand for ASICs, NEC is endeavoring to provide better design tools, which make up the environment in which customers design ASICs. In fiscal 1995, NEC announced OpenCAD Ver. 4, a comprehensive ASIC design tool that supports the design of architecture based on 0.35-micron processing technology. OpenCAD Ver. 4 improves design efficiency and enhances NEC's ability to meet customer needs.
During fiscal 1995, NEC became the first Japanese manufacturer to mass-produce a chip set for the MPEG2 (Moving Picture Image Coding Experts Group 2) international standard for digital compression of video. We are already employing this chip set in a satellite digital television network for which we have received an order from a Japanese insurance company.
NEC is developing state-of-the-art semiconductors, such as this strategic MPEG2 chip set, for multimedia applications.
NEC has developed a semiconductor laser diode capable of emitting one billion optical signals per second. This low-power device can be used as a light source for transmission at speeds of 10Gbits per second on optical fiber networks.
Demand for TFT color LCDs, which have become a key component of human interfaces in multimedia technologies, continued to grow in fiscal 1995. NEC's newest displays for notebook PCs deliver an ideal combination of portability and performance. Not only are they thinner and lighter than previous models but they also consume less power and feature larger screens that are capable of displaying a wider range of colors. During the period under review, we introduced a 31-centimeter (12.1-inch) high-resolution color LCD that matches the brightness of conventional cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and expanded our lineup of small color LCDs. In addition, we increased our color LCD production capacity in Japan by expanding our production line in Kagoshima and inaugurating a new plant in Akita.
NEC's new factory in Kyushu, Japan, is one of the world's most advanced semiconductor production facilities. The factory manufactures strategic products with excellent growth potential.
In January 1995, NEC initiated mass production of TFT color LCDs at NEC Akita, Ltd., in Japan. With this new facility, we have greatly increased our TFT color LCD production capacity.