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Industry News

The Commercial Market

February 1, 2003
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The Commercial Market


MEMS in Consumer Electronics

As far as the consumer electronic market is concerned, MEMS is slowly heading in the right direction, according to In-Stat/MDR. The high tech market research firm reports that the technology is moving forwards in terms of device development, increasing unit shipments, and most importantly, price reduction - all of which will allow MEMS companies to capture market share in a growing number of applications. As a result, unit shipments of MEMS devices for consumer electronics products are forecast to increase from 5.2 million in 2001 to 189.4 million in 2006, at a compound annual growth rate of 105.2 percent.

In-Stat/MDR has also found that:

Those devices that will impact this sector the most will consist of accelerometers, gyros, microphones, optical MEMS and RF MEMS. Key applications include home theater, camcorders, digital TVs, cell phones and electronic toys.

Depending on whether the workability of certain MEMS devices that are currently in development can be proven, other applications with strong potential include MP3 players, digital cameras, portable DVD players, set top boxes and PDAs.

Revenues for MEMS devices for consumer electronics products will rise to $613.5 M in 2006 (at a CAGR of 21.5%), up from $124.3 M in 2001 - despite average selling prices that will decline fairly steeply throughout the forecast period.

End-user Applications Will Rejuvenate the World Power Transistor Markets

Potential growth of many end-user application markets such as next-generation wireless communications, consumer and automotive electronics, as well as computer applications, is expected to boost the power transistor markets. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, World Power Transistor Markets (Report A214) reveals that this market generated revenues worth $5.27 B in 2001 and is estimated to reach $6.23 B in 2004.

Utilization of enhanced transistors in green energy power generation from solar energy, windmills, micro-hydroelectric systems and flywheels provide a multitude of market opportunities. Expansion of data-communication infrastructure as well as a growing need for mobile and Internet connectivity create favorable market propositions for manufacturers. Increased use of electronic systems in automobiles, such as body electronics and power train systems, catapult demand. Requirements of high power densities for portable electronic applications and the development of technologies such as hybrid/electric vehicles currently provide new avenues of growth. New models of white goods with high energy efficiency and greater performance also drive market development. The Asia Pacific market is expected to grow strongly with its communication infrastructure build-up and increased relocation of manufacturing facilities from other regions. Continued development of better technologies increases internal market competition and necessitates constant review of product strategies. Innovative solutions such as trench-gate and non-punch-through technologies effectively combat the decline in price, revenue margins and demand by providing end-users integrated as well as functional smart solutions.

Manufacturers are consolidating their businesses and concentrating on core competencies due to market maturity and slow recovery of the economy. Demand anticipation and proactive allocation of resources enable companies to counter high inventory build-ups caused by cyclic demand variations in end-user application markets. The emergence of contract electronics manufacturers that prefer fewer number of suppliers compel market participants to widen their product portfolio. Vendors with the ability to deliver several components, on time, at numerous global locations are likely to dominate the market.

GaAs is In but Silicon is Not Out

Aggressive pricing has boosted demand for GaAs-based wireless power ICs. Today, even some moderately priced GSM handsets are using GaAs power amplifiers. Another trend in handset design is the increased reliance upon power modules. Modules greatly simplify design of notoriously complex power amplification circuits. While the market for power modules reached $528 M in 2001, a sharp double-digit increase is expected by year-end 2002 as more and more OEMs employ modules in their designs.

These are some of the trends revealed in a new study by Allied Business Intelligence (ABI). The study, "RF Power Devices: Transistors, ICs, Power Modules and New Materials," examines RF power transistors and ICs for various end-use markets. While the report outlines trends in the market for wireless handsets and infrastructure, other segments are addressed.

Other trends examined include the following:

In the 802-11x WLAN market, GaAs and SiGe will battle it out for future dominance of this segment, poised to grow more than 40 percent compounded annually through 2007.

For wireless infrastructure, silicon-based LDMOS still dominate base station designs. However, recent developments in GaN may displace LDMOS in the not so distant future.

While the wireless industry accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total market across all segments examined, other markets, including wireless LAN, ISM and military, will comprise a larger portion by the end of the forecast period in 2007.

Motorola and SiRF Agree to Develop New Location-aware Chipsets

SiRF Technology Inc. and Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS), the world's largest producer of imbedded processors and a leading supplier into the mobile phone market, have announced an agreement to integrate SiRF's market-leading SiRFstar Global Positioning System (GPS) core technology with Motorola wireless baseband and applications processors to location-enable a line of Motorola's SPS chipsets for mobile devices. This is SiRF's third announced agreement with Motorola.

Motorola plans to incorporate SiRF's advanced GPS technology into a line of location-aware wireless baseband and applications processor chipsets that will broaden the market for devices used for location-based services, as well as to address accuracy and availability requirements contained in the United States' FCC Enhanced 911 (E-911) mandate for wireless carriers. SiRFLoc multimode technology is being used by Nextel for E-911 emergency location and location-based services. SiRF and Motorola plan to develop and jointly market a series of wireless/GPS chipsets for use in the GSM, GPRS and 3G cellular markets, as well as for PDAs. The companies are already developing joint reference designs for next-generation handsets using SiRF GPS and Motorola wireless chipsets for customers needing speedy market entry. The first anticipated jointly developed chip from this agreement is expected to be a GPS RF receiver IC, which will interface to an embedded GPS baseband processor in Motorola cellular platforms or to a SiRF baseband processor. Currently in the sampling stage, these products are expected to be available from SPS beginning in the second quarter of 2003.

"SiRF was founded with the intent of developing location technology that could be used in a wide range of consumer devices," says Kanwar Chadha, vice-president of business development and founder of SiRF Technology. "SiRF's location technology combined with Motorola's semiconductor technology and worldwide presence is a major step toward that objective. We believe that the products that result from this agreement will bring the level of integration, cost and performance needed to accelerate the mainstream market acceptance of location technology in markets like wireless handsets and PDAs."

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