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Slow consumer spending drags power IC market

Posted: 20 Nov 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:power management market? tablet? consumer spending? rectifier? MOSFET?

According to the latest data from IHS, the market for power management semiconductors is forecast to drop six per cent by the end of the year. This is a result of slowing global consumer markets, indicated the market research firm.

Revenue derived from the use of power management chips will amount to $29.9 billion by the end of 2012, down from $31.8 billion last year. In comparison, the industry posted a small 1.5 per cent increase last year, from revenue of $31.4 billion in 2010.

The market returns to growth next year at a projected 7.6 per cent increaseconsidered just average for power management semiconductorsto $32.2 billion, slightly above where the market was last year. A modest rate of expansion ensues after that for the next three years, with industry revenue reaching an estimated $38.7 billion by 2016.


Figure 1: Worldwide Power Management Semiconductor Revenue Forecast (Billions of US Dollars)
Source: IHS iSuppli Research, November 2012.

The decline this year comes on the heels of a general slowdown in consumer spending all over the world. Despite the popularity of devices such as smartphones and tablets, the consumer markets as a whole remain soft, with specific segmentssuch as notebooks and other computer platformsregistering perceptible slowdowns.

Also contributing to the overall decline this year of the power management space is a deceleration of energy initiatives in Asia. Government incentives encouraging improved-efficiency cooling systems for residential and commercial use have expired, but new replacement stimulus efforts never took place in 2012.

Nonetheless, the need for better power management in most present-day equipment will drive the industry moving forward. Key markets for power management semiconductors in the future will be mobile devices, communications, energy and public infrastructure improvements, and new construction. An especially potent market lies in alternative energy, especially in hybrid and electric vehicles, wind and solar energy, and grid upgrades for smart meters and similar devices. Medical electronics will also spur demand through diagnostics, monitoring and various human-aid products.

The largest growth this year for power management chips came in Q3, when revenue rises 4.5 per cent to $7.7 billion, up from $7.37 billion. Q3 will be a distinct improvement from the slight 1.5 per cent expansion of Q2 and prove stronger than the 3.2 per cent growth of Q1. The final quarter of the year calls for a seasonal decline of 1.4 per cent when the power management space contracts, as is usual for the industry at the end of every year.

The market for power management semiconductors includes products related specifically to the conversion, distribution and management of power in electronic systems. Among these products are power management ICs such as voltage regulators and references, as well as power interface ICs and application-specific power management ICs. Other important power management products are power discretes such as power transistors greater than 1W, rectifiers greater than 0.A and thyristors.

The semiconductors are used in a wide range of industries including energy generation and distribution, building and home control, military and civil aerospace, home audio system components, medical electronics and automotive applications. Some common devices that make use of power management chips are digital STBs, LCD and plasma TVs, mobile handsets, media tablets, game consoles, flat-panel monitors and PC servers.

The top power management devices over the long term will be IGBT modules, which are used to enhance power efficiency and improve energy conservation in a range of industrial, consumer and automotive applications. The IGBT modules will find strong use in the markets for alternative energy, automotive and industrial devices.

Other power management semiconductors posting excellent growth prospects in the years ahead will be MOSFETs that handle significant power levels, and linear regulators for maintaining steady voltage.

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