SAN FRANCISCO—The market for power inverters is expected to grow from about $45 billion in 2012 to $71 billion by 2020, according to a report by market research firm Yole Développement.
Growth in the market for power inverters—which change direct current to alternating current—is being driven by increasing demand from solar installations, wind turbines, electric and hybrid vehicles, electric trains and other applications, according to Yole (Lyon, France).
According to Brice Le Gouic, activity leader for power electronics at Yole and the author of the firm’s report on the inverter market, more than 28 million inverters were shipped in 2012. Yole estimates that that number will grow to 80 million units in 2020, Le Gouic said.
Naturally, growth is also expected in the main components of inverters, passives and semiconductor modules. The power module market was worth $1.9 billion in 2012 and the passive component market was worth more than $4 billion, Yole said.
Thus, the main components of inverter, passive and semiconductor modules (that we will find in power stacks) represent enticing industries. The power module market was $1.9 billion in 2012 and the market for passive components— including capacitors, resistors, connectors, busbars and magnetic components—was worth more than $4 billion last year, Yole said.
Wide band gap semiconductor devices have also started to penetrate those high-end market segments, according to Yole. According to the firm, improvements in semiconductor technology are expected to continue to improve inverter performance.
Yole said improvements in chips have led to more efficient energy conversion, lighter systems and more reliable end products. Insulated-gate bipolar transistors have improved, Yole said, as have silicon carbide- and gallium arsenide (GAN)-based devices. GAN-based devices are expected to be introduced into the power inverter space in 2013, Yole said.
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.