Digital power market booms as technology spreads to new markets

Global markets for digital power supplies and digital power integrated circuits (ICs) are projected to boom from 2013 to 2017, as their use in IT infrastructure increases and as the technology expands into lighting and consumer-oriented applications including PCs, appliances and cellphones. Global market revenue for digital power supplies is expected to rise to $12.4 billion in 2017, more than three times the $3.7 billion predicted for 2013, according to a new report from IMS Research.

Revenue growth this year is expected to top 37 percent rising from $2.7 billion in 2012. Explosive growth in digital power ICs is also forecast with revenues increasing more than fivefold from 2013 to reach $2.6 billion in 2017.

“The digital power market is currently one of the fastest-growing segments of the power management industry,” said Jonathon Eykyn, power supply and energy storage analyst at IHS. “Early adopters of digital power components include information technology and communications infrastructure applications such as servers and telecommunications/data-communications equipment. But now digital power is also entering the consumer realm, as other sectors adopt digital power solutions.”

Manufacturers at present mainly employ analogue power-management systems. However, they are migrating to digital technology because of its flexibility and programmability, which leads to increased performance and reliability. This will reduce hardware complexity, cutting the amount of time and effort to design systems and ultimately lowering the cost of electronic systems.

“Digital power can reduce the overall bill-of-materials cost by reducing the number of discrete components, reducing the overall footprint, increasing power density and providing the capability to monitor as well as optimize power levels and system requirements while in operation,” Eykyn said. “All this can help accelerate time to market for a range of products.”

The fastest-growing application for digital power will be lighting, with the segment anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 146 percent from 2012 to 2017. The increase will be driven by the rising usage of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting solutions, which lend themselves to digital power control and monitoring.

Meanwhile, digital power in notebooks and tablet PCs will rise at 99 and 82 percent CAGR, respectively, during the same period. Major home appliances will surge by 76 percent and cellphones will increase by 52 percent.

The rise of digital power supplies will fuel the rapid growth in the market of associated semiconductors.

The digital power IC market is projected to grow at a faster rate than the digital power supply market because the chips are used in end equipment at the board level and also in digital power supplies.

One obstacle to even faster adoption of digital power supplies is their perceived expense and 27 percent of manufacturers and designers surveyed by IHS indicated that cost is still the largest barrier in the market. However, this highlights the lack of knowledge from some potential implementers regarding the overall cost savings that digital solutions can provide, and shows that there is still some way to go in educating designers at electronics manufacturers.


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