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Major Players in the Semiconductor Industry Jockey for Position in the DCP Market

Wed, 09/30/2009 - 4:57am
  El Segundo, Calif., -- Having overcome some fundamental hurdles, suppliers of digital power semiconductors have aligned behind Digital Controllers of Power (DCPs), setting the stage for a nearly sevenfold rise in revenue by 2013, according to iSuppli Corp.

Global sales of digital power semiconductors are set to increase to $821 million in 2013, up from $127 million in 2008.

The digital power semiconductor market consists of two types of products: Digital Power Managers (DPMs) and DCPs. While DPMs currently dominate the market, DCPs will experience more rapid growth in the coming years. Global revenue from shipments of DCPs is set to rise to $236 million in 2013, up from just $16 million in 2008.

The biggest growth in demand for digital power semiconductors will be driven by high-end servers as well as datacom and telecom equipment. By the year 2011, growth is expected to pick up in the lower-end compute markets such as notebook PCs and graphic cards.

“Over the past five years, the digital power chip market has made extraordinary advances,” said Marijana Vukicevic, senior analyst for power management at iSuppli. “These include power-stage integration, the mixing of digital circuitry with analog and the arrival of bus communication capabilities in the form of PMBus and I2C. All these developments have established the path for a dominant technology: DCP.”

DPMs are devices that use digital information to manage the overall functioning of the power system and the power supplies within it. With DPMs, digital signals are used for communication to, and from, the power supplies in order to monitor and manage a number of tasks, including power-up, sequencing, load sharing and balancing, fault conditions, hot swapping and maintenance issues.

DCPs are controllers that use digital techniques to control the power-switching functions within a power supply unit. In its most theoretical form, this means performing the analog-to-digital conversion as early as possible, so that all feedback and control functions in the supply are processed in the digital domain.

Some major players in the semiconductor industry are jockeying for position in the DCP market via the acquisition and purchase of assets.

For one, Infineon Technologies AG in 2008 purchased Primarion Inc., which offers DCP products. Also in 2008, Exar purchased Fyrestorm Inc.’s Intellectual Property (IP) related to DCP. In the same year, Intersil Corp. acquired Zilker Labs, which offers DCP products as well. Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) in early 2009 acquired CICLON Semiconductor Device Corp., which offers a fast and efficient power MOSFET product line that could be integrated with TI’s DCP products and improve system efficiency tremendously.

In other developments, Linear Technology, Infineon, Texas Instruments and Powervation licensed Power-One Inc.’s digital power patents, which relate to digital power technology for use in DCP products. Power-One’s position in DCP was solidified by its patent litigation victory over Emerson Network Power in the area of systems-level communication in point-of-load applications.

  Learn more about the power management market with Vukicevic’s new report, entitled: Digital Power: Is It Still Alive?

 
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