Efficiency: An Engineering Task

Reported by Cliff Keys, Editorial Director & Editor-in-Chief, Power Systems Design


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With the future of our traditional energy resources depleting and the concern over the condition we leave our planet in for our children, energy efficiency has never been so important. Companies are desperately telling their engineers to reduce power levels - a tough call that only our worldwide engineering community can fix. All designs for electronic equipment now have this as a major consideration and power has never been such an important part of the design process. Technology, in this respect, is moving so fast that half the problem for the designer is in finding and selecting the right technology and components. In this issue I wanted to explore, at all levels, the current and future advances in the power electronics industry. We now have Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) at our disposal as real products. The global power semiconductor market is predicted grow by just 5.0% in 2012 to $32 billion, according to IMS Research which has cut its previous forecast of more than 8% due to global economic uncertainties and inventory being flushed from the supply chain. The market, which grew by 37% in 2010, is however forecast to return to double-digit growth in 2013. Latest findings from the company's Power Management Quarterly Market Watch revealed that the power semiconductor market (including power discretes, power modules and power ICs) grew by just 3.7% in 2011, following its strong recovery in 2010. Whilst demand remained relatively robust in the first half of 2011, inventory corrections and major economic uncertainties surrounding the Euro-zone crisis resulted in declines in Q3'11 and Q4'11. The power IC market growth was almost 3% lower than power discrete growth in 2011, though this trend is set to be reversed in 2012, with slightly higher growth predicted for power ICs. The power module market continued to outperform both power discretes and power ICs, showing sustained high double-digit growth in 2011, which is projected to remain in for the next four years, driven by demand for IGBT modules. Whilst factors such as inventory correction resulted in a slowdown in demand in 2H'11, particularly for power discretes and power ICs, growth projections for 2012 are more directly linked to end-equipment demand. This demand, however, also differs largely by application. I do hope you enjoy this issue of the magazine and please don't forget to check out Dilbert at the back and keep the feedback coming in. I appreciate this. All the best Cliff Editorial Director & Editor-in-Chief Cliff. Keys@powersystemsdesign.com