SAN FRANCISCO — The PC market, for many years the single biggest driving force for semiconductor sales, is headed toward its sixth consecutive year of decline. Meanwhile, the semiconductor industry is on pace for its best year ever.
As the PC has waned as the killer application for semiconductors, a host of new applications has risen in prominence. Among them is the automotive semiconductor market — a strong market for the semiconductor industry for years — which is becoming arguably the most important market for semiconductors as the amount of semiconductor content per vehicle rises.
In fact, market research firm IC Insights forecasts that the automotive semiconductor market will be the the strongest end market for chips through 2021. According to the firm, automotive electronic system sales are forecast to rise by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.4 percent from 2016 through 2021.
Behind the forecasted CAGR, IC Insights said, is rising demand for electronic systems in cars, with increasing attention focused on self-driving (autonomous) vehicles, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications, as well as on-board safety, convenience and environmental features — not to mention growing interest in electric vehicles.
As a result, automotive IC sales are expected to increase by 22 percent in 2017 and another 16 percent next year, IC Insights said.
The automotive segment is expected to account for an estimated 9.1 percent of the $1.49 trillion total worldwide electronic systems market in 2017,up from 8.9 percent in 2015 and 9 percent in 2016, IC Insights said. Automotive’s share of global electronic system production has increased only incrementally through the years, and is forecast to show only marginal gains as a percent of total electronic systems market through 2021, when automotive electronics are forecast to account for 9.8 percent of global electronic systems sales, according to the firm.
IC Insights said pricing pressures on both ICs and electronic systems will keep the automotive end-use application from accounting for much more than its current share of total electronic systems through 2021, despite the rise in electronic systems being added to cars, the firm said.
According to IC Insights most recent report on semiconductor industry drivers, industrial electronic systems are forecast to enjoy the second-fastest CAGR through 2021, 4.6 percent. This growth includes increases in robotics, wearable health devices and systems promoting the Internet of Things help drive growth in this segment, the firm said.
Other forecasted compound annual growth rates listed in the report include 4.2 percent for communication systems and 2.8 percent for consumer electronic systems. The personal computing segment is expected to have the weakest CAGR of all major semiconductor drivers through 2021, IC Insights said.
— Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.