Power Electronics

Mobile Products Poised to Drive Power Semiconductors

A recent report from market research firm Communications Industry Researchers (CIR, Charlottesville, Va.) projects a healthy growth for power semiconductor devices used in mobile electronic products, such as notebooks, cell phones, PDAs and portable DVD players. The CIR report indicates that these mobile products offer strong prospects for market growth in the next few years. According to CIR’s report, the total market for Power ICs and associated discretes used for power management in mobile applications will reach $4.3 billion in 2004 and climb to $7.2 billion in 2008.

This study indicates that manufacturers of power semiconductor ICs and discretes have promising opportunities in the expanding mobile sector for years to come. As the mobile appliance industry continues to grow and become technologically complex, the issue of power management will become even more crucial. With more features and advanced display technologies being added to mobile devices, the processors used within these devices have, in turn, become more complex and are outpacing current power solutions, such as Lithium-chemistry batteries. However, with the next generation of power sources—mini fuel cells—several years from widespread commercialization and the inability of current power solutions to improve more than a few percentage points per year, Power IC manufacturers, along with vendors of power management software and the designers of mobile devices themselves, must address the gap between the rapidly growing “power drains” in mobile devices and the slowly growing capabilities of batteries.

Interestingly, at this week’s IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco, Calif., Nokia Mobile Phones’ executive vice president and chief technology officer Yrjö Neuvo highlighted the need for more battery power as the cell phone evolves from a traditional communications gadget to a multimedia entertainment appliance. In a plenary talk at ISSCC, Neuvo said that as more features are added to the cellular handset, the battery technology is facing a hard time to keep up with the surging demand for more power.

While advances in CMOS scaling has enabled developers to pack baseband subsystem on a chip with minimal power consumption, the RF section of the cell phone has changed little in terms of size and power consumption, said Neuvo. These components are likely to increase as cell phones are required to handle multiple RF, Neuvo added. Consequently, cell phone makers are approaching a point where the unit will demand 3 Wof power, while the projected battery technology will offer only 2 W. In essence, he noted, the battery technology has to progress faster to close this gap.

CIR's new report is titled, “Power ICs in the Mobile Device Market.” In this five-year forecast of OEM requirements, the report addresses the trends shaping the market for power semiconductor devices and discusses how power semiconductor manufacturers can capitalize on the market opportunities available to them. The report details both volume and value shipments of semiconductor component types, such as power switches, chargers, battery packs, converters, power supervisors and real-time clocks across product segments like mobile phones, laptop computers, PDAs, digital cameras, portable CD/DVD players, GPS devices and industrial handheld devices.

For more information, visit www.cir-inc.com.

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