Semiconductor sales by Taiwanese companies climbed 28 percent in the first quarter, a sign of robust strength in the chip industry. since many products are made or finished on the island.Taiwanese chip industry sales totaled 307 billion New Taiwan dollars\u00a0(US$9.44 billion as of March 31, the end of the period being reported) in the first quarter, up from NT$240.7 billion during the same time last year, according to the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA).Chip testing and packaging sales rose the most, by\u00a0more than\u00a0a third, thanks to demand for handsets and other communications gear. Companies in this sector put the finishing touches on chips by testing them for defects and placing them inside protective materials.Taiwanese semiconductor design houses took second place, with 27 percent growth, mainly due to strong sales of chips used in liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Brisk sales of LCD monitors, laptops and LCD TVs during the first quarter continued to boost Taiwan\u2019s LCD chip designers.Chip manufacturing companies, including contract chip makers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and dynamic RAM makers, accounted for the lion\u2019s share of Taiwanese chip sales, but grew at a slightly slower pace than the rest of the island\u2019s chip industry, 26 percent. Frugality helped the contract chip makers most during the first quarter, according to TSIA. Conservative investment in new production lines over the past few years has meant the contract chip makers are benefitting from the ability to keep prices high since factories can barely keep up with demand. Taiwan is home to several global leaders in the chip industry. TSMC is the world\u2019s largest contract chip maker, producing chips for customers ranging from Texas Instruments to Nvidia. Advanced Semiconductor Engineering is the biggest global chip testing and packaging company, and MediaTek is the top designer of chips for optical drives, such as DVD players.-Dan Nystedt, IDG News ServiceFor related news coverage, read TSMC Advances to Top Chip Production Technology, Another Chip Maker Quits the DRAM Biz and LCD TV Prices to Drop Fast in Coming Years.Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.