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Auto industry third largest market for power semiconductors

A new report from IHS Inc. indicates the automotive industry has significantly outperformed the overall market average for semiconductors in 2014, becoming the third largest end market for power semiconductor applications.

A study of the IHS Power Management Market Share and Supplier Analysis report reveals that demand for semiconductors by the automotive industry was particularly strong in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and infotainment systems. In the power management semiconductor market, power integrated circuits (ICs) grew much faster than traditional power discrete solutions. The automotive power IC category in 2015 is forecast to grow 8 per cent, year over year, while the discrete segment’s revenue is projected to remain flat during the same period.

According to Jonathan Liao, senior analyst of power semiconductors for IHS, automakers are taking strategic decisions to control their research and development costs. These include developing shared designs, components, engineering, and production platforms, and using the same electronic control units (ECUs) for different platforms with the same features. He explains that suppliers are showing a preference for small and interchangeable ECUs that can fit on various platforms, helping lower overall development costs, and expand the target customer base for an improved return on investment.

This approach has led to faster growth for automotive power ICs over discrete solutions. Texas Instruments, the market leader in voltage regulators controlled 8 percent of voltage regulators used by the automotive industry in 2011 and increased its voltage regulator revenues by 150 per cent by the end of 2014. In contrast, Infineon, the leading automotive market supplier of discrete power solutions, increased their power management revenues at roughly half of Texas Instruments’ growth rate, during the same time period.

One reason for the growth in power ICs is the increased consumer demand for luxury car features in the non-luxury car market. This consumer demand has led to options such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, connected traffic updates, sophisticated infotainment systems with voice command, and other advanced features being integrated into mass-produced mid-range vehicles. 
Greater adoption of power ICs is expected with automakers offering features such as Internet-connected cars, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, autonomous cars, Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto where application processing speed and software are critical components.

Liao adds that sophisticated power management solutions for power-intensive multi-core processors, baseband chipsets and sensor arrays can be implemented much more easily with power ICs, resulting in faster growth of this segment.

Power ICs will continue to outperform power discrete solutions in the automotive semiconductor sector. Power IC components such as switch regulators, low-dropout (LDO) regulators and power management integrated circuits (PMICs) offer better integration, efficiency and smaller footprint, especially for low voltage applications in automotive electronics.
Keywords: Automotive Industry, Power Semiconductors, Power Management, Power Management Integrated Circuits, Voltage Regulators, Power ICs, Integrated Circuits, Automotive Semiconductors


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