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Analogue continues to thrive in the digital age

Posted: 22 Oct 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:analogue  semiconductor  IC 

The belief has been that since the world is going digital, analogue is on its way out. However, analogue is not going away anytime soon, and there has even been a renewed boom in the market due to new applications including power management, automotive, sensors, implantable medical devices and LED lighting.

Lou Hutter, senior VP and general manager, analogue foundry business division, Dongbu HiTek, said that the overall IC industry is projected to grow by 30 per cent in 2010 over 2009. He added that beyond 2010, the IC industry could see single-digit annual growth. And when one looks at the compound annual growth curve from 2010-to-2014, the IC market "looks like a maturing industry," Hutter said during a presentation at the event.

Yet a growth segment remains. Hutter mused "So what is growing? I think the growth is in analogue."

One of the hottest growth areas in analogue is the power management segment, which is expected to grow 9 per cent from $22 billion [Rs.1.03 lakh crore] in 2009 to $32 billion [Rs.1.49 lakh crore]

in 2014," Hutter said. There are other growth markets that will fuel analogue demand, including automotive, displays, LEDs, medical and others, he added.

David Robertson, VP of analogue technology, Analogue Devices Inc., was slightly more bullish. The pessimists say that "Moore's law is done and we're in a maturing industry, I really don't believe that. I believe will we see rapid expansion and we will have double-digit growth."

He added that analogue will continue to thrive in the cycle. New applications will continue to drive demand for analogue-oriented "signal chains, architectures and circuits," he said.

Sensors is one of the emerging markets for analogue. These include accelerometers, gyros, gas sensors, among others, said Joe McPherson, CEO, McPherson Reliability Consulting LLC. He also cited implantable devices and other medical products as new frontiers in analogue.

Automotive continues to drive analogue demand. There is ongoing demand for analogue-oriented chips for sensors, hybrid cars and electric vehicles, said Shoichi Matsumoto, general manager for New Japan Radio Co. Ltd, at the event.

Another booming market is LED lighting, said Ron Edgerton, president and CEO of iWatt Inc., a supplier of DC-DC regulators and AC-DC controllers.

There is good and bad news for LEDs. "We estimate that LED unit demand will experience a 25 per cent CAGR over the next five years, as LED penetration transitions from small consumer devices to large-size screens, followed by general lighting," according to a report from Barclays Capital.

"However, we anticipate continued volatility in investor sentiment as the current inventory correction in LED TVs is driving limited inventory replenishment orders in 4Q 10; still sizeable LED TV premiums are limiting substantial consumer adoption without associated price cuts; and the timing of the general lighting ramp is still uncertain," according to the report.

"China capacity (is) likely to contribute to oversupply," according to the report. "Layer in aggressive capacity additions in China, which will likely contribute to an oversupply situation in 2011/2012, and we see pricing pressure intensifying across the supply chain, muting the earnings power of LED manufacturers and likely driving somewhat lower valuation multiples relative to historical standards."

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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