IGBT sales to drive power semiconductor market growth in 2012 as MOSFETs struggle

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By eeNews Europe

The value represents a slight improvement compared with the 2.2 percent growth achieved between 2010 and 2011, but a more detailed examination shows mixed fortunes for different product types and applications.

IMS Research’s new analysis of the market for Power Semiconductor Discretes and Modules reports that discrete insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) are again expected to be the fastest growing product type. Sales exceeded $1 billion for the first time in 2011, with demand exceeding supply for most of the year, resulting in most discrete IGBT manufacturers applying customer allocation. This situation only slowed after the Eurozone debt crisis and the suspension of Chinese government incentives to improve power efficiency. 2012 has seen IGBT market growth driven by industrial motor drives and power modules, and by automotive applications for hybrid electric vehicles. Sales for inverterized home appliances produced in China have slowed following removal of the government incentives, but are still projected to deliver double-digit growth in 2012. The overall discrete IGBT market is forecast to grow by 19 percent in 2012.

The increasing growth in the discrete IGBT market is exceptional; the prospects for the discrete power semiconductor market overall are less optimistic. Revenues from power MOSFETs, thyristors, and GTOs, IGCTs & GCTs declined slightly in 2011. The main market drivers for commodity power MOSFETs and rectifiers are the computing and consumer sectors, both of which have been declining since mid-2011 onwards. The combined MOSFET and rectifier market is predicted to fall from an estimated 75 percent of the total discrete power semiconductor market in 2011 to under 74 percent in 2012, falling to only 72 percent in 2016. Not only are shipments of goods such as Notebook computers, LCD TVs, DVD players & recorders and other consumer electronics flat or declining in 2012; the content of power semiconductors is decreasing as well, as users demand lower power consumption. The approaching completion of the analog to digital switch-over coupled with the end of the LCD TV sales boom have impacted television shipments in many Western countries this year.

The computer and office equipment sector is the largest sector for power metal–oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) being worth an estimated 37 percent of the total MOSFET market in 2012. Several factors have coincided to cause the sector to decline this year: slowing global economic activity, the October 2011 floods in Thailand restricting notebook production in early 2012, slow sales ahead of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system launch, and rising tablet sales taking market share from notebook PCs (tablet devices contain fewer power MOSFETs than PCs). There are three major influences on MOSFET forecasts for the computing sector in 2012 and beyond. The most significant is a change in microprocessor semiconductor technology, with Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge micro-architecture aiming to consume up to 50 percent less power than previous models, which suggests that Ivy Bridge motherboards may use up to 50 percent fewer power MOSFETs than before. Secondly, the demand for improved power efficiency is driving power adapter designs to adopt synchronous rectification, which uses MOSFETs instead of rectifier diodes. Lastly, the server market is likely to alter due to the arrival of ‘Cloud’ computing, which is predicted to drive sales of large storage servers to service providers but reduce sales of smaller servers to user organizations.

Automotive and industrial applications, including renewable energy, communications, medical, lighting and transportation sectors are projected to drive the largest growth in 2012, rising faster than the overall discrete power semiconductor market. The cellular handsets & infrastructure, consumer and computer & office equipment sectors are forecast to grow by less than the discrete power semiconductor market in 2012.

The latest findings and analysis on the power semiconductor market can be found in IMS Research’s The World Market for Power Semiconductor Discretes & Modules 2012 report, published in August 2012.

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