Power Electronics

Data Points

Analysts Predict Double-Digit Growth for Power IC Revenue

Two reports issued in recent months from marketing research firms forecast double-digit growth in power IC revenue over the next four to five years. In summarizing their reports, analysts from Venture Development Corp. (VDC; Natick, Mass.) and IMS Research (Wellingborough, U.K.) cite factors such as the growing complexity of power-management designs, demands for better energy efficiency and the growth of consumer electronics applications. However, as one firm points out, unit shipments are expected to rise faster than revenue, implying that average selling prices (ASPs) for power ICs will fall.

In December, VDC announced the findings in its report, which studied ICs in 10 product categories encompassing a variety of popular voltage regulators and controller types, driver ICs, battery-management devices and supervisory chips (see the table). In a white paper titled “Power Supply and Power Management Integrated Circuits: Global Demand Analysis,” VDC states that the “PSIC [power-supply IC] market is expected to grow at a 10.9% compound annual growth rate [CAGR] through 2012, versus the 3% to 8% that was forecast for the broader semiconductor market.”

In terms of actual power IC sales, this growth means an expected rise from $10.417 billion in 2007 to $15.752 billion in 2011 and $17.478 billion in 2012, says the firm. Nevertheless, VDC predicts that unit shipments of products will rise at a CAGR of 15.4% over the 2007 to 2012 period. The firm attributes the discrepancy in revenues and unit shipments to an erosion in ASPs. VDC cites factors such as improvements in technology, more efficient manufacturing, commodization and the effects of increasing manufacturing capacity as pushing down prices.

In terms of what's driving the rise in power IC revenue, the firm notes several familiar trends. One is the “increasing functionality and complexity” of electrical and electronic equipment. Other trends revolve around the growing demand for higher efficiency in portable as well as nonportable electronics, which are in turn shaped by consumer awareness about the impact of energy consumption and governmental efforts to legislate higher efficiency. VDC also cites the effects of “power management standards and initiatives by trade groups.”

The white paper also notes two influential application areas. It describes medical equipment as the “fastest growing segment under study, driven by advances in digital imaging and health care products for the aging population.” The paper also points to consumer electronics as “the largest market segment,” noting it “will see high growth on absolute dollar volume due to home electronic and cellular handset innovations.”

Similar findings come from IMS Research, which published its report in October. The firm forecasts that the global power management market will continue by more than 10% per year on average, reaching close to $15 billion by 2011. IMS Research analyzed a total of 11 power IC product categories, including various regulator and controller types (see the table). The firm notes that its study included a focus on the “digital power” market, which VDC also discusses in its white paper.

In assessing growth drivers for the power management market, IMS says, “the market will benefit from increasing shipments of consumer electronics equipment; and from increasingly complex power management design, and heightened interest in energy-efficient products.”

Ash Sharma, the director of research for IMS, also notes that particular IC categories will drive the growth in revenue, “The majority of the revenue growth will be driven by dc-dc switching regulators and switching controllers. Positive growth is also forecast for the relatively small ac-dc regulator market. In addition, very high growth is projected for ‘newer’ products such as PFC and PoE controllers.”

For more information, see www.vdc-corp.com and www.imsresearch.com.

Table. Breakdown of product categories in market research studies.
Venture Development Corp. IMS Research
Ac-dc off-line regulator ICs Traditional linear regulators
Battery-charging and management ICs Low-dropout linear regulators (LDOs)
Dc-dc regulator ICs Dc-dc switching regulators
Hot-swap controller ICs Ac-dc switching regulators
LED drivers Switching controllers
Linear regulator ICs Power factor correction (PFC) controllers
MOSFET drivers Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) controllers
PFC preregulator ICs Hot-swap controllers
PWM/PFM controller ICs Driver ICs
Voltage supervisory/reset ICs Intelligent power switches
Power-management application-specific standard products (ASSPs)

High Growth Projected for PV Market

In a recently issued report, BCC Research projects the global market for photovoltaics (PV) will rise from $12.9 billion in 2007 to more than $32.3 billion by 2012, a compound average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.9%. The report, “Photovoltaics: Global Markets and Technologies (EGY014F),” also indicates that global shipments of PV cells/modules (expressed in generating capacity) reached 2875.1 MW in 2007. This figure is projected to grow by 28.6% to reach 3697.3 MW by 2008, and then by a CAGR of 30% to reach 13,724.4 MW by 2013.

According to the Wellesley, Mass.-based marketing research firm, the rapid growth of PV will be driven by the global demand for energy of all kinds, the potential problems of climate change, the renewable features of solar energy, and improvements in PV technology and materials. BCC Research also notes that PV will be increasingly integrated within industrial and living structures.

Silicon technology, which accounted for about 89% of the market in 2007, will continue to dominate through the end of our forecast period, says the firm. Multi-crystalline silicon will grow at a 285% rate through 2013. Recent improvements in this traditional technology and its reliability will keep it in the forefront, but silicon will represent only 79% of the market by 2013.

Meanwhile, silicon-based PV will face increasing competition from solar cells based on thin-film technology. Thin films, while only 10% of the market currently, will grow at a 45% rate through 2013, says the firm, which notes that improved efficiencies and the use of thin films on flexible substrates will drive their rapid growth. As a result, thin films will account for almost 19% of the PV market by the end of the forecast period, according to BCC.

The firm also predicts rapid growth for new technologies such as nanostructured thin films and silicon and dye-sensitized solar cells. For more information, see www.bccresearch.com.

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