2 July 2012

Power semi market grows 9% to $18bn in 2011 despite challenges

Following a spectacular recovery in 2010, the power semiconductor discrete and module market grew by a more modest 9% in 2011 to just under $18bn, according to the 15th edition of an annual report from IMS Research, which this year includes more comparisons of wide-bandgap (silicon carbide and gallium nitride) power semiconductor sales with silicon sales.

According to ‘World Power Semiconductor Discretes and Modules report – 2012 edition’, 2011 was a year of two very contrasting halves. The high growth rate of 2010 was sustained in first-half 2011, but demand started to tail off in Q2/2011. Global business confidence took a knock when the Euro crisis hit in August. The power semiconductor market slowed in Q3 and then declined sharply in Q4/2011, largely because of a prolonged inventory correction.

Compared with just 3% for discrete power semiconductors, in 2011 the market for power modules grew by a much faster 32%, driven mainly by solar energy, car production and consumer appliances. In contrast, discrete semiconductors are used in faster-moving goods such as TVs and notebook & desktop computers, so their sales respond quickly to changes in consumer confidence.

Against a background of pricing challenges and fluctuating demand and lead-times, Infineon remained the leading supplier of power discretes and modules, according to IMS. Other manufacturers whose share of the market grew included power module specialists Mitsubishi Electric, Fuji Electric and Semikron.

Overall, the top ten suppliers of power semiconductor discretes and modules in 2011 were (1) Infineon, (2) Mitsubishi Electric, (3) Toshiba, (4) STMicroelectronics, (5) International Rectifier, (6) Fuji Electric, (7) Fairchild, (8) Vishay, (9) Renesas, and (10) Semikron.

“Infineon further cemented its leadership in IGBTs [insulated-gate bipolar transistors] and was the fastest-growing supplier in the power MOSFET market,” comments Richard Eden, senior market analyst in IMS’ Power Management & Conversion Group. “Mitsubishi Electric maintained market leadership in power modules, enabling it to narrow the gap with Infineon in the total market,” he adds.

For the second year running, Japanese manufacturers benefitted from the strengthening value of the Yen, which inflated their revenue share in terms of US dollars. Japanese suppliers now account for 51% of the power module market, up from 48% in 2010.

For this year’s edition of the report, Greater China (China and Taiwan) has been separated out from the Rest of Asia, making five major regions, together with Europe, Middle-East and Africa (EMEA), Americas, and Japan. Other changes include an analysis of the use of bare die in power modules and electric vehicles, and coverage of some new power module applications.

Tags: Power semiconductors MOSFETs IGBTs

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