Signaling an improvement for the Chinese and other key global economies, shipments of power MOSFETs, which are widely used in a broad range of electronic products and systems, are set to rebound this year in China after a sharp downturn in 2011, led by green energy and power-saving initiatives along with a recovery in exports.
Revenue for the China power MOSFET industry is forecast to hit $2.25 billion this year, up 3 percent from $2.18 billion in 2012, according to a China Research topical report from information and analytics provider IHS. The market fell 8 percent last year from $2.37 billion in 2011.
Growth will be stronger next year when revenue climbs 11 percent, with steady increases projected to take place each succeeding year until at least 2017. By then, the China power MOSFET space will be worth $3.01 billion.
Power MOSFETs-or metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors-boost energy efficiency and minimize power losses in a variety of industries and electronic gadgets or appliances. Because they are used in so many types of electrically powered equipment, MOSFETs can serve as an indicator of overall business and economic conditions.
Power MOSFETs will resume growth in China as domestic and export demand strengthens this year. Within the country, urbanization projects, government support and an increasing awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency will serve as growth drivers. Moreover, the slowly improving economies of the United States and other developed countries will help stimulate China exports for the device after faltering last year.
The biggest market in China last year for power MOSFETS was data processing, an area covering computers and monitors. Smaller form factors, slimmer packaging and greater power efficiency were the driving forces, and data processing overall accounted for 35 percent of total China power MOSFET revenue. Revenue was strongest from notebooks, followed by flat-panel monitors, desktop PCs and servers.
The second-largest market was consumer electronics, fueled by the huge demand in China for liquid-crystal display televisions (LCD TV) and home appliances. Other consumer electronics segments of note were home audio components, game consoles, portable media or MP3 players, and digital set-top boxes. The consumer electronics space accounted for 22 percent of total power MOSFET revenue in the country.
Coming in at a close third was the industrial electronics market with a 21 percent share. Here the building and home control segment reigned supreme with close to half of segment revenue, which also included home temperature control, lighting and security. Electronic bikes formed another major segment, with as many as six to 10 power MOSFETs used in the motor of each ebike.
Two other markets made prominent use of power MOSFETs in China. The communications market for both wired and wireless applications deployed the devices in five key segments: enterprise voice networks, mobile infrastructure, switches, mobile handsets and media tablets. For the lively China automotive market, power MOSFETs were used in powertrains, infotainment, and safety and control.
Among power MOSFET suppliers to China, California-based Fairchild Semiconductor was the leading maker with sales last year of $207 million. Germany's Infineon Technologies was second; followed by International Rectifier, also from California, at third. To survive steep price competition, vendors continue to develop higher-performance products while also forming alliances-such as that forged by Fairchild and Infineon for an automotive application-to better serve Chinese customers.
Low-voltage power MOSFETs had the largest market share overall among MOSFET devices with 49 percent of revenue, followed by high-voltage and then middle-voltage MOSFETs. Lower-voltage MOSFETs are especially suitable for mobile devices with portable power supplies, such as smartphones and tablets, for converting voltage and regulating current. In comparison, middle- and high-voltage MOSFETs are utilized for more specialized circuit handling.