Power management semiconductors will continue to experience softness in the first quarter, echoing the weak performance of the previous period and of 2012 as a whole, before picking up in the second quarter and then finishing this year with growth, according to an IHS iSuppli Power Management market tracker report from information and analytics provider IHS.
Revenue for power management chips is forecast to reach $7.1 billion in the first quarter of 2013, down 4 percent from $7.4 billion in the fourth quarter last year. Prospects will improve starting in the second quarter, and the year is expected to close at a gain of 5 percent from last year's $29.6 billion. The projected annual increase, while considered modest, is a welcome step up from the steep 7 percent revenue decline of last year.
Overall, growth for power management in 2013 is a result of the market advancing after an almost two-year slowdown. Market expansion is also the product of a natural upswing in the consumer market cycle, along with the replenishment of inventories. Industry expansion will be supported by expected recovery in consumer spending power this year, which will exert a positive influence on demand for products like wireless-smartphones and tablets being the most popular. Power management semiconductors then stand to benefit from the virtuous circle.
The market for power management semiconductors includes products related specifically to the conversion, distribution and management of power in electronic systems. Among these products are power management integrated circuits like voltage regulators and references, as well as power interface ICs and application-specific power management ICs. Other important power management products are power discretes, such as power transistors greater than 1 watt; rectifiers greater than 0.5 amperes; and thyristors.
The semiconductors are used in a wide range of industries, including energy generation and distribution, building and home control, military and civil aerospace, home audio system components, medical electronics and automotive applications. Some common devices that make use of power management chips are digital set-top boxes, liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma televisions, mobile handsets, media tablets, game consoles, flat-panel monitors and PC servers.
While both 2011 and 2012 were down years for power management, the long-term outlook for the space appears solid, with 4 percent growth forecast during the next five years. Demand will be driven mainly by markets like wireless, communications, energy, new building and improvements to public infrastructure. The healthcare segment will also be of significance, including power management applications in medical electronics, diagnostics, monitoring, and various human-aid products.
An important market will be alternative energy, such as hybrid and electric vehicles, wind and solar, and grid upgrades for smart meters and related equipment. In particular, a push for cleaner energy worldwide will bring to the attention of many suppliers the market for inverters-electrical power converters that change direct current to alternating current, and used in a wide range of applications. The semiconductor market alone for inverters will grow from $4.4 billion in 2011 to $6.9 billion in 2016.
The strongest growth in power management semiconductors will be in media tablets, expected to enjoy a five-year compound annual growth rate of 28.7 percent. What follows are building and home control at 11.1 percent, mobile infrastructure at 10.9 percent and mobile handsets at 8.2 percent.