LONDON – The market for discrete semiconductors, module and ICs dedicated to the power electronics industry will reach $20 billion in 2012, according to market research firm Yole Developpement (Lyon, France).
The technology is addressing applications from hybrid automobiles, through photovoltaic inverters to lighting, heating and covers from single-digit voltages to thousands of volts.
Yole analysts reckon IGBTs account for $1.6 billion in the medium to high voltage market. Superjunction MOSFETs present faster switching frequencies and the market is set to be worth $567 million in 2012.
The more exotic technologies of gallium nitride GaN and silicon carbide SiC promise to surpass silicon in performance but it is early in the technology deployment and materials and devices are expensive.
The materials are having an impact in the market for LEDs for lighting applications and this is leading some manufacturers to consider leveraging this for power applications, Yole said.
"GaN and SiC are not mature yet for the power electronics market: the first one requiring technological enhancement of the manufacturing process, especially for the epitaxy thickness, and the second one being an expensive material that does not allow implementation within consumer-like businesses," said Yole, in a statement.
IMS Research (Wellingborough, England) puts the 2012 power semiconductor market size at $32 billion, forecasting that it will grow by 5 percent from 2011.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.