Their growing use is driven by two factors: increasing global unit shipments of major home appliances, and increased electronic content in them. Increased shipments of appliances are largely driven by the growing economies of China, India, and Latin America. Over the next five years, IMS Research forecasts unit shipments of global appliances to grow modestly at just 4 – 6% a year, contrasting with the revenues from their semiconductor content, which are forecast to grow at double that rate.
Analyst Liz Cruz goes on to say that “the second and more direct factor creating demand for semiconductors in appliances is the increased use of electronics in them, itself driven by several factors”. The focus on energy efficiency in appliances has led to increased use of inverter-based variable-speed drives in them; and to improved power management. Specifically, the trend toward variable-speed motor control increases the demand for IGBT modules, which accounted for the most power semiconductor revenues in major home appliances in 2010.
During the global recession, MHA makers began to focus on bringing design in-house and differentiating themselves from the competition through unique features. Two popular ways to achieve differentiation are through increased use of electronic controls & displays and through new safety features & programs (which require greater memory storage); these need more advanced microcontrollers. Cruz comments that “while the market is currently dominated by 8-bit microcontrollers, IMS Research forecasts substantial growth for 16-bit and 32-bit types in most appliance categories.”
Increased shipments of major home appliances and the increased electronic content in them will continue to drive semiconductor use in appliances. IMS Research forecasts the market to grow to nearly $3 billion in 2015, or almost double the revenues in 2010.