Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Is power electronics industry a world apart?

FRANCE: For the second straight year, Yole Développement and Serma have joined forces to organize the Successful Semiconductor Fabless conference, a unique European event dedicated to the fabless business model. This event takes place in Paris, from April 10 to 12.

In the 1970s, the semiconductor industry was vertically integrated. Most companies were IDMs with manufacturing, design, intellectual property (IP) and marketing activities. During this period, manufacturing technology evolution was strong and required new fabs, which directly increased capital expenditures. Companies desired an attractive Return on Invested Capital (ROIC), and to obtain it they developed a new, lower-investment business model by including manufacturing services in their portfolio.

In the 1980s, the first pure foundries emerged -- and ten years later, the fabless business model was born. The rest, as they say, is history; according to GSA, in 2011, there were 1,800 fabless companies worldwide, covering a variety of sectors.
Yole Développement has spent the last few years exploring the semiconductor fabless business model and its evolution, and in Q2 2013 will release a report detailing our findings. The report will cover several industrial sectors including MEMS, advanced packaging and power electronics.

Along with our partner, Serma Technologies, we’ve created a unique European destination where professionals can share ideas about fabless business models and discuss business opportunities. If you’re interested in discovering the latest technology trends and exchanging information with key players, you won’t want to miss Successful Semiconductor Fabless 2013, in Paris April 10-12.

In the power electronics field, the fabless business model is not as common compared to the MEMS industry. For example, most power electronics players have their own capabilities/fabs dedicated mainly to silicon wafer manufacturing. According to Yole Développement, $4 billion was generated by MEMS fabless companies in 2012, against less than $300K in the power electronics area.

“Less than 10 companies have been clearly identified in the power electronics industry. This trend is clearly linked to the introduction of new materials like GaN and SiC wafers in manufacturing technologies. New products already commercialized, for example photovoltaic inverters, use these new materials. Yole Développement is currently analyzing the power electronics industry in order to understand what the next step will be,” explains Alexandre Avron, Power Electronics Technology & Market Analyst at Yole.

For a long time the power electronics field and its key players only considered silicon wafers. Today, however, the power semiconductor industry is entering a new era: for the first time, power electronics companies are developing new solutions based on “non-silicon” manufacturing technologies. This evolution is not without big investments, though, and in order to limit them, some companies have decided to become fabless and collaborate with large fabs to produce the necessary components.

The truth is that power electronics is not a world apart, and that the fabless business model has just become a reality in the field. It represents a real opportunity for power electronics companies to introduce new components and embrace the technology evolution.

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