Unlike an integrated circuit, discrete semiconductors are expected to perform a singular electronic function. Usually, discrete semiconductors are used in constructing circuits that can withstand considerable voltage load or current stress. They also help realize basic circuit functions. Rather than being built on a single semiconductor substrate with other components, discrete semiconductors have circuits built out of singular semiconductor units, connected together on a circuit board or terminal strips.
The Global Discrete Semiconductor Market is estimated to have grown to a size of nearly US$35 Billion in 2022 from approximately US$25 Billion in 2017. The market is expected to grow further to a size of around US$55 Billion by 2028 at a CAGR of around 7% for the forecasted period of 2022-2028.
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- Growth in the automotive market, especially in the Electric Vehicles segment, is seen as one of the major reasons for the surge in the demand for discrete semiconductors. According to reports published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), consumers across the globe spent nearly US$250 billion on Electric Vehicle purchases in 2021. Growth in the sales of EVs led to a sharp increase in end-use investment in electrification, which accounted for more than 65% of total end-use investments in the transport sector in 2021 and was estimated to cross 74% in 2022.
- Such high levels of growth in EVs and electrification have led to a spike in the sales of discrete semiconductors that aid in developing autonomous vehicle technology, regenerative braking systems, sensors & cameras, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), etc. Discrete semiconductors have also proven effective for components that are conducive to extreme voltages and environmental conditions.
- The increasing demand for efficient electronic devices is also driving the growth in the market of discrete semiconductors. According to an IEA report, buildings are responsible for around one-third of the world’s total final energy consumption. IEA also estimates an annual growth of 0.8% in household energy demand from 2016 to 2040.
- Such growth in energy consumption calls for efficient power management systems at the level of individual/household consumption. Examples of such smart devices include speakers with voice control, sensor-based, wearable activity trackers, smart camera-equipped doorbells, or self-driving cars. Power management systems, required to run such smart and efficient devices, require discrete semiconductors as switching devices and rectifiers that can convert electrical signals or change the voltage or frequency of an electrical current as and when required.
- Despite consistent growth in total market size, discrete semiconductors still constitute less than one-fifth of the global semiconductors market. As per the numbers published by industry publication IC insights in February 2022, the combined sales of Optoelectronics, Sensors/Actuators, and Discrete (O-S-D) accounted for only 17% of the world’s total semiconductor market in 2021. Integrated circuits come with a host of advantages over discrete semiconductors. For instance, the physical size of ICs is significantly lower than that of the discrete circuit. Resultantly, the weight of an IC is also less and consumes less power.
- In the initial days of the Covid pandemic, the semiconductor market, like many other industries, suffered from supply chain disruptions, frequent lockdowns, government restrictions on transport, unavailability of raw materials and labor, etc. However, the market started stabilizing in the second half of 2020 and the sales started crossing expectations during the 2021 global economic rebound, showing healthy signs of recovery from shortages, restricted supplies, and higher prices.
Key Trends by Market Segment
By Type: Transistors segment held the largest share of the Global Discrete Semiconductors Market in 2021. Transistors can be of many types, including MOSFET, IGBT, and Bipolar transistors. MOSFET or Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors are the leading sub-segment within the transistor segment. IGBT stands for Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transistors.
- According to an industry report published in 2021 by the Semiconductor Industry Association, semiconductors can be packed with up to tens of billions of transistors on a piece of silicon that is not more than the size of a quarter. Microprocessors, forming the core of a digital computer’s Central Processing Unit or CPU, may contain up to 40 billion transistors.
- Diodes can also be of different types, including Switching diodes, Zener diodes, ESD Protection diodes, and Variable-Capacitance diodes. Rectifiers, converting alternating current into direct current, are also special types of diodes. Rectifiers could be general-purpose or high-speed.
- Vishay Intertechnology, Inc., one of the notable players in the semiconductor industry, introduced two new diode varieties in September 2022 to augment its position in the discrete semiconductor segment. The newly launched diodes were short-wavelength ultraviolet-emitting ones that came in ceramic and quartz-based packages.
- These diodes are equipped to offer DC forward current up to 300 mA and forward voltage down to 5.2 volts at a wavelength range between 265nm and 280nm. These diodes are expected to be used in sterilization devices required for earbuds, water bottles, refrigerators, air purifiers, medical instruments, coffee machines, ATMs, and vacuum cleaners. Industries benefitting from these diodes would include the medical, industrial, and consumer sectors.
- The Thyristors are four-layer devices with alternating P-Type and N-Type semiconductors (P-N-P-N). Usually equipped with three terminals – positive, negative, and control terminal – a Thyristor helps control electric power and current as a switch. Thyristors come with the capacity to protect circuits with large voltages (up to 6,000 volts) and currents (up to 4,500 A).
- A discrete semiconductor module is one that offers designated tools to analyze semiconductor device operations, including the simulation of a range of devices, such as bipolar transistors, MOSFETS, IGBTs, etc.
- The combined market of Optoelectronics, Sensors & Actuators, and Discrete Semiconductors – popularly referred to as the O-S-D market, discrete semiconductors have successfully managed to keep their share consistent through the years, almost one-third of the market from 2015 to 2021. This consistent demand is a result of the steadfast demand for power transistors, diodes, and many commodity devices.
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By Component: The Memory Devices segment held the largest share of the discrete semiconductor market, component-wise.
- Discrete semiconductor memory devices are deployed in many consumer electronic devices that have a consistently growing demand, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Discrete semiconductor memory devices can either be volatile or non-volatile. Examples of volatile memory storage include RAM or Random Access Memory, which lose stored information as and when power is removed. Non-volatile memories, on the other hand, can retain their stored information even if the power is removed.
- The demand for discrete power devices has also been on the rise. In order to cater to this demand, Hitachi, one of the significant players in the market, restructured its power semiconductor business in 2013. Hitachi first transferred its design, manufacturing, quality assurance, sales, and other operational capabilities to Hitachi Haramachi Electronics Co., Ltd., and subsequently changed its name to Hitachi Power Semiconductor Device, Ltd. The entity now designs, manufactures, and sells discrete devices, including IGBT modules, diodes including rectifiers, fast recovery, Zener, surge, suppressors, and high-voltage diodes.
By Application: The Consumer Electronics segment is estimated to occupy the largest chunk of the discrete semiconductor market, followed closely by Automotive.
- High demand from the consumer electronics segment is driven by the need for discrete semiconductors in portable electronics products, wearable and gaming devices, products for smart homes, etc. In the Automotive industry, discrete semiconductors are deployed in regenerative braking systems and developing autonomous vehicle features, while the industrial application includes efficient and energy-saving security and lighting systems for large physical infrastructure.
- Also, a substantial increase in the number of people working from home offices and home set-ups is driving growth in the networking and communication segment. Among other industries, discrete semiconductors find applications in healthcare facilities, hotels and restaurants, ATMs, and more.
- To keep up with the growing demand for discrete semiconductors, Toshiba Electronic Devices & Storage Corporation decided to construct a 300-millimeter wafer fabrication facility at its discrete semiconductor product base in Ishikawa, Japan.
- Toshiba expects the expanded facility to help in more than doubling its existing power discrete semiconductors production capacity. The expansion commenced in February 2022 and the start of phase 1 production is expected to happen within the fiscal year 2024.
- With the increasing adoption of Electric Vehicles, the demand for regenerative braking is also witnessing a surge, resulting in demand growth for discrete semiconductors. Regenerative braking utilizes energy wasted during the slowing down of a car to recharge EV batteries. Resultantly, regenerative braking systems reduce energy consumption in vehicles.
- A scientific study showed that vehicles with regenerative braking features have a 95% probability that their energy consumption would be in the range of 144-147 Wh/Km. In vehicles that do not have regenerative braking, the energy consumption hovers between 153 and 156 Wh/Km.
By Region: The Asia Pacific is estimated to be the largest geographic region in the discrete semiconductor market. Moreover, it is also expected to be the fastest-growing market in the forecasted period of 2022-2028.
- The Asia Pacific region leads the market for a variety of reasons, including the presence of semiconductor manufacturing facilities in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and India, significant growth in the automotive industry in the region, positive flow of investments in developing advanced AI-based semiconductors, vast presence of portable and wireless manufacturing facilities, and low cost of labor.
- North America is also considered to be a significant geographic region for the discrete semiconductor market driven by the notable presence of the automotive industry players in large numbers and the regional expertise in research, design, and manufacturing of semiconductors, especially for those that are optimized for high-temperature applications.
- According to reports published in November 2021 in the well-known industry publication Semiconductor Engineering, China is investing heavily in power semiconductors, used in cars, computers, and other types of industrial products.
- Wingtech Technology, a semiconductor and communications product company based in Hong Kong, announced an investment of nearly US$2 billion to build a 300 mm power semiconductor fab in Shanghai in early 2021.
- According to a whitepaper-based report published by the Semiconductor Industry Association, nearly 23,000 new semiconductor companies were established in China in 2020 alone, a nearly 200% rise in comparison with the 2019 numbers.
- According to another industry report published in December 2021, there were more than 100,000 semiconductor and circuit manufacturing employees in the US, a number that is expected to rise by 70,000 to 90,000 new jobs to be added soon.
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The Global Discrete Semiconductor market has nearly 100 players, including globally diversified players, regional players, and country-niche players having expertise in addressing specific technological needs relating to one or multiple specific sub-segments.
Large global players constitute ~25% of the market in terms of the number of competitors, while regional players represent largest number of competitors. Some of the major players in the market include ABB Limited, ON Semiconductor Corporation, Infineon Technologies AG, STMicroelectronics NV, Toshiba Corporation, NXP Semiconductors, Diodes Incorporated, Nexperia, D3 Semiconductor, Eaton Corporation, Hitachi Ltd, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Fuji Electric Corporation, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd., and Vishay Intertechnology Inc. among others.
Recent Developments Related to Major Players
- In Mid-December 2021, STMicroelectronics introduced a family of GaN power semiconductors under its STPOWER portfolio. These newly launched family of products are capable of notably reducing the consumption of power and facilitating slimmer designs for a variety of end-use consumer electronics products, such as chargers, external power adapters for PCs, LED-lighting drivers, and power supplies to be used inside televisions and other home appliances.
- In August 2022, Toshiba introduced its3rd generation silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFETs, capable of delivering low on-resistance and reducing switching loss. Toshiba is dedicated to coming up with more such products in the future as part of its commitment to help realize a carbon-free economy with high-performance power devices.
- In April 2022, Nexperia added to its existing lineup of discrete components that came in leadless DFN packages with side-wettable flanks. The company expects, owing to their space-saving features and resilience, these components would help meet the demands of next-gen smart and electric vehicles.
The Global Discrete Semiconductor Market Size, Segments, Outlook, and Revenue Forecast 2022-2028 is expected to grow at a steady pace of ~7% during next 6 years and reach a revenue of ~US$55 Bn by 2028, owing to its applications in the consumer electronics and automotive markets. While the demand for high-energy, low-power devices would drive growth from the consumer electronics part of the market, increasing electrification and automation requirements in vehicles would fuel demand from the automotive category. Uses in the medical industry, construction industry, and lighting industry, in general, would also contribute to the growing demand for discrete semiconductors. There are nearly 100 competitors but regional players comprise the largest number among them.
- Memory Devices
- Logic Devices
- Discrete Power Devices
- Networking and Communication
- Consumer Electronics
- Rest of Europe
- South Korea
- Rest of Asia Pacific
- Latin America
- Middle East
- ABB Limited
- ON Semiconductor
- Infineon Technologies
- STMicroelectronics NV
- Toshiba Corporation
- NXP Semiconductors
- Diodes Incorporated
- D3 Semiconductor
- Eaton Corporation
- Hitachi Ltd
- Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
- Fuji Electric Corporation
- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd.
- Vishay Intertechnology Inc.