IGBT sales to drive power semiconductor market growth in 2012 as MOSFETs struggle

September 13, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
The global discrete power semiconductor market is predicted to grow by 3.7 percent in 2012 reaching a total market value of $13.4 billion, according to a recently published report from market analysts IMS Research.

The value represents a slight improvement compared with the 2.2 percent growth achieved between 2010 and 2011, but a more detailed examination shows mixed fortunes for different product types and applications.

IMS Research’s new analysis of the market for Power Semiconductor Discretes and Modules reports that discrete insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) are again expected to be the fastest growing product type. Sales exceeded $1 billion for the first time in 2011, with demand exceeding supply for most of the year, resulting in most discrete IGBT manufacturers applying customer allocation. This situation only slowed after the Eurozone debt crisis and the suspension of Chinese government incentives to improve power efficiency. 2012 has seen IGBT market growth driven by industrial motor drives and power modules, and by automotive applications for hybrid electric vehicles. Sales for inverterized home appliances produced in China have slowed following removal of the government incentives, but are still projected to deliver double-digit growth in 2012. The overall discrete IGBT market is forecast to grow by 19 percent in 2012.

The increasing growth in the discrete IGBT market is exceptional; the prospects for the discrete power semiconductor market overall are less optimistic. Revenues from power MOSFETs, thyristors, and GTOs, IGCTs & GCTs declined slightly in 2011. The main market drivers for commodity power MOSFETs and rectifiers are the computing and consumer sectors, both of which have been declining since mid-2011 onwards. The combined MOSFET and rectifier market is predicted to fall from an estimated 75 percent of the total discrete power semiconductor market in 2011 to under 74 percent in 2012, falling to only 72 percent in 2016. Not only are shipments of goods such as Notebook computers, LCD TVs, DVD players & recorders and other consumer electronics flat or declining in 2012; the content of power semiconductors is decreasing as well, as users demand lower power consumption. The approaching completion of the analog to digital switch-over coupled