Battered by soft consumer spending, power-management-chip market set to decline in 2012


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Click image to enlarge: worldwide power-management-semiconductor revenue forecast (billions of US dollars)

IHS iSuppli now predicts that the market for power-management semiconductors crucial to energy savings in a wide range of devices will decline by 6% by year-end, due mostly to pronounced softness in the global consumer markets. 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, according to an IHS iSuppli Power Management Tracker Report. In comparison, the industry posted a small 1.5% increase last year, from revenue of $31.4 billion in 2010. The previous IHS forecast for 2012, issued in September, called for slight 1.7% growth for the market. "The decline this year comes on the heels of a general slowdown in consumer spending all over the World," said Marijana Vukicevic, senior principal analyst for power management at IHS. "Despite the popularity of devices like smartphones and tablets, the consumer markets as a whole remain soft, with specific segments—like notebooks and other computer platforms—registering 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. Rebound in 2013 The market is set to return to growth next year at a projected 7.6% increase—considered just average for power-management semiconductors—to $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 (see figure). 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. Power on 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 like 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 1 W, rectifiers greater than 0.5 A, and thyristors. The top power-management devices over the long term will be IGBT modules, which 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. IHS