15th January 2013

Some promising application markets for semiconductor biz in 2013

Communication and Consumer Electronics appear as the most promising application market segments for 2013. And within that, portability and wireless connectivity are set to be the main growth drivers for the semiconductor industry.

The other promising markets for 2013 are automotive and medical.

Portability has brought in an increasing importance of power management. Demand for power efficient and high performance solutions in portable devices will continue driving the need for power management ICs - and these represent a significant part of revenues from analog IC vendors.

The rapid growth of wireless applications and the incorporation of computing into communications (e.g. smartphones) and vice versa (e.g. media tablets) is likely to continue in 2013. While smartphones have been the main growth driver in the wireless application, the market also includes all semiconductor content needed for communication infrastructure, equipment etc. The proliferation of 4G, an increasing use of fibre coupled with an increasing data traffic need will catalyse this application market segment. In addition, semiconductors have proliferated beyond the traditional wireless and computing applications, e.g. mobile commerce.

The rise of M2M communications/Internet of things will also provide long term opportunities for wireless communication chip makers. These will span a broad range of applications across automotive, industrial etc. Intelligent, connected, and energy-efficient systems (with sensors and motors being wirelessly connected) will continue leading to higher semiconductor content.

The increasing sophistication of the mobile devices has led to not only increasing semiconductor content but also its varied usage. The traditional content of baseband and RF has morphed into multicore application processors, connectivity supporting various spectrum bands, sophisticated graphics and video, touchscreen displays etc. And the tidings will cascade across the complete semiconductor supply chain supporting these applications. This includes market for components like sensors, displays, power management, MEMs etc.

2013 will also see MEMS becoming a part of mainstream semiconductor content. From gyroscopes, accelerometers, and microphones, they are finding an increased penetration into devices spanning multiple industries and applications – consumer electronics, mobile devices, medical, automotive, aerospace etc. Its growth will be seen through an increased on board processing and integrated and self-contained sensing units.

On sensors, Internet of things is also likely to drive a huge market for low power, cost sensitive sensors. Innovations here are also reshaping the medical imaging industry. While this market is currently evolving, the emerging technologies and products in this space are likely to go main stream with a high potential.

Medical electronics is another promising market for semiconductor. The increasing aging population, increased life-span and various life style related illnesses are spurring the demand here. Medical devices now warrant small and smarter technologies – coupled with wireless connectivity.

Automotive has also seen an increasing amount of electronics. Automotive infotainment, safety, fuel efficiency and enhanced features is making this application market very promising for semiconductor content

posted in Semiconductor, Business, Forecasts, Analog, Automotive | 0 Comments

6th May 2010

Analog IC market - a sellers market for 2010

The tight supply of analog ICs seems set to continue. The current demand is growing faster than the capacity ramp ups and quite a few analog vendors are turning away business. 

Analog chip makers are struggling with part shortages and extended lead times. Further investments for capacity ramp-up, optimizing fab outputs etc. are taking place in an uncertain backdrop of a “relatively accurate picture of actual demand”.  TI is expanding its 300mm analog fab – though, after off-loading its wireless products, it has to expand capacity for analog significantly in order to maintain growth momentum. Maxim is taking several actions – optimizing existing production lines and increasing loading to foundry partner, Epson.  The analog IC market in particular looks to be a seller’s market for the entire 2010!   

 

posted in Business, Analog | 0 Comments

6th December 2007

Fab lite diet for analogs?

Over the last few years, we have been seeing IDMs outsourcing their digital production needs to the foundries. Now looks like, a similar path may be taken by the big analog IDMs too – or at least “their interest level in outsourcing has dramatically increased”, as per Thomas Hartung, VP of Sales & marketing for X-Fab.

Read a couple of interesting articles which highlight this potential move; here are few points from them which I’d like to share:

For years, analog IDMs have manufactured the bulk of their products in-house, shipping only a small percentage to foundries, for a number of reasons.

-    Many analog products do not require leading-edge fabs or processes. -    Most analog ICs have relatively small die sizes and wafer volumes are hence low as compared to their digital counterparts ; this does not work well with outside foundries-    Analog products generally have longer life cycles and can be made cheaply in older fabs for several years.

-    The real money makers in analog sell in modest volumes year after year; something that works for an internal fab but not at an expensive foundry.

-    And analog vendors insist fabs still give them a competitive edge as they work on the edges of highly optimized, internally developed processes

This doesn’t mean foundries have no role in the analog IC world. Foundries can effectively support fabless vendors of ICs that have considerable digital content but only modest analog content and that don’t push the envelope of analog performance. On the other hand, the specialized foundries are trying to get these analog IDMs look more towards outsourcing their production needs to them. Hans-Jurgen Straub, CEO, X-Fab Group, says that analog IDMs should focus on product innovation rather than on process innovation. Besides pushing its own analog & mixed signal processes, Germany’s X-Fab has also been acquiring fabs from various IDMs.(a US fab from TI in 1999, a UK fab from Zarlink semiconductor in 2002,  last year acquisition of Malaysia’s 1st Silicon and then ZMD AG’s wafer processing subsidiary early this year).

So, it is to be seen whether the analog IDMs will beat the same path as digital IDMs or continue in the old fashioned way  

posted in Business, Foundry, Fabless, Analog | 0 Comments

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