Portable Communications is No Longer the Growth Engine for DC-DC ICs

July 09, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

According to Darnell Group’s twelfth-edition analysis of “Worldwide DC-DC Portable Power Converter IC Forecasts Applications, Amperages, Products and Competitive Environment”, communications applications such as mobile phone handsets that have been the primary growth engine for this market for nearly a decade are no longer the dominant source of growth. Emerging applications in the portable computing segment such as tablets and ultra books have become the new growth engine for this large and important market.

“The emergence of portable computing as the dominant engine driving growth in this market is a very significant event,” Darnell President Jeff Shepard stated, “And it is only the first of several market and technology changes that will challenge power management IC makers in the next several years. External developments such as the emergence of GaN and GaAs power semiconductors and the development of commercially-viable power-system-in-package and power-system-on-chip technologies will also become increasingly significant threats.”

While it is no longer the fastest-growing segment, communications applications are still projected to maintain the largest converter IC market over the forecast period. Driving the forecast for the communications segment are switching regulators and power management ICs (PMICs) used in mobile phone markets. This is a large and important market for makers of power management ICs. Driven by traditional applications including the three C’s – communications, computers and consumer, the total worldwide Portable Power dc-dc converter IC market is projected to grow from about 31 billion units in 2013 to over 50 billion units in 2018, a CAGR of 10.3%. The addition of new architectures, smaller form factors, more efficient designs and improved power management is expected to create new opportunities.

Driven by the tablet computer market, the computer segment is projected to be the second largest and fastest growing market for converter ICs. It is expected to be driven by the large switching regulator and controller IC markets.

The Forecasts presented in this year’s edition are based on a detailed analysis of 22 portable power applications divided among five categories: communications, computer, consumer, portable medical and portable military/aerospace segments. In past editions, forecasts included both portable and non-portable applications. This report will focus exclusively on the portable segment. Converter IC forecasts include converter/regulator ICs, charge pumps, low drop out regulators (LDOs), switching regulators, PMICs, and controller ICs.

By the end of the forecast period, almost 80.0% of converter/regulator IC sales will be in the switching regulator segment. Although switching regulators garner a lot of attention due to their high efficiency, low drop-out (LDO) linear voltage regulators often offer the optimum solution for powering circuitry in many of the latest portable devices. Overall, the unit market for LDOs is expected to remain strong throughout the forecast period.

This 83-page analysis includes over 30 tables and graphs covering the worldwide portable power converter IC market for 22 applications. This report only looks at the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) market. The focus of this comprehensive analysis will be to provide decision makers with a detailed and insightful look at the current and future opportunities available in the portable power converter IC market.