Power semiconductor market firing on all cylinders

October 04, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The market for power semiconductors has reversed its recent downturn and exhibits upwards trends. Main driver are automotive and industrial customers, says a report from IHS Markit.

According to the market watchers, global power semiconductor revenues increased by 3.9% in 2016, reversing a 4.8% decline in the previous year. IHS Markit divides the market into three categories – discretes, modules, and integrated circuits. Of these three, discretes showed the biggest jump.

Particularly strong was the development in the automotive and industrial segments – automotive customers bought 7.0% more power semiconductor than in the previous year. Here, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) fared extremely well as a result of the “democratizing” trend for such features – carmakers tend to equip mid-level vehicles with such features whereas they previously were reserved for the luxury class. This trend leads to much higher unit sales.

Likewise, the hybridization of the powertrain left traces in the sales figures: The market researchers observed sharp gains for power modules and power discretes as the number of vehicles equipped with inverter systems for hybrid (including micro hybrid) powertrains increased. A typical feature of such powertrains are advanced stop/start capabilities which requires extensive use of power semiconductors. Power modules for cars and light trucks for this reason made a jump of 29.3 % in 2016.

With a growth of 5.0%, also the industrial segment was about average. In the broad industrial sector, the drive for energy efficiency improvement led to growth in renewable energy (solar and wind inverters), building and home control, and factory automation applications.