Analyst: Power transistors on comeback trail

April 20, 2006 – The market for power transistors, which accounts for half of the discrete semiconductor market, will swell to record levels over the two years, due to demand for devices to keep chips operating at peak efficiency but at low voltages, according to IC Insights Inc.

The market for power transistors slipped nearly 5% in 2005 to $7.7 billion, due to price erosion and slowdown in unit demand, the analyst firm noted. Sales are expected to inch up 3% in 2006, and nearly 9% in 2007, to a new record high of $8.7 billion.

Power transistors have enjoyed wide acceptance over the past decade in a range of applications including automotive electronics, PCs, mobile consumer devices, and industrial equipment, the firm noted. From 1990 to 2010, the segment’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) will be 8%/year to $10.5 billion, outpacing the entire discrete industry’s 5% CAGR.

As more transistor functions are moved onto ICs, the number of discrete power devices is also increasing due to a need to manage electricity from external supplies (e.g. wall plugs and batteries). As a result, more power MOSFET devices are needed in desktop and notebook PCs, cell phones, and consumer products to keep microprocessors and other ICS running at top speeds, while maintaining low operating voltages.

Both power field-effect transistors (mostly power MOSFETs) and insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) are fueling the sector’s growth, noted IC Insights. Low-voltage power MOSFET sales are seen increasing at 6% CAGR from 2005-2010 to top $4.3 billion, with high-voltage power MOSFETs (>200V) enjoying better than 9% CAGR to $1.7 billion by 2010.

The fastest growing power transistor segment is IGBTs, seen rising 14% in 2006 to $1.6 billion, with 2005-2010 CAGR of 12% for IGBT transistor products and nearly 11% CAGR for modules. The devices typically are used for more rugged, slower-switching power applications in automobiles, industrial systems, and home appliances

Power transistors accounted for about half of the $15.7 billion discrete semiconductor market in 2005, and will rise to about 54% of the projected $19.6 billion discrete segment by 2010, the analyst firm noted.


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