El Segundo, Calif. − The global semiconductor magnetic sensor market is forecast to grow seven percent this year, reaching $1.73 billion, up from $1.62 billion in 2012, according to IHS Inc. The market research firm attributes the revenue growth to widespread adoption in the automotive sector.
Global revenue is expected to expand again by approximately seven percent in 2014, reaching $1.85 billion, said IHS. Growth over the following three years is pegged at four to eight percent to reach about $2.20 billion by 2017.
"More than five billion magnetic sensors and switches were sold last year, with automotive accounting for 52 percent of revenue and the consumer and mobile sector making up another 37 percent," said Richard Dixon, principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS, in a statement. "The rest was in industry, energy, medical and other smaller applications, such as the transport, aerospace and maritime sectors."
"Magnetic sensors are used to track rotational speed and linear angles in machines and devices, or to detect and process magnetic fields to establish positioning," said Dixon.
The IHS report reveals that the Top 10 suppliers of magnetic sensors account for 87 percent of the industry's revenue. The leader is Asahi Kasei Microsystems (AKM) of Japan thanks to its Hall-based electronic compasses for mobile handsets and tablets followed in order by Massachusetts-based Allegro Microsystems, Infineon Technologies of Germany, Micronas of Switzerland, and Belgium-based Melexis.
Other leading suppliers include NXP of the Netherlands, Yamaha of Japan, Alps Electric of Japan, the American-Austrian manufacturer ams, and Diodes Inc. in Texas.
Growth in the magnetic sensors market can be attributed to vehicle safety systems applications required by mandates in several countries including United States, Canada, the European Union, Australia, South Korea and Japan. One of the biggest applications include electronic stability control (ESC) to prevent vehicle skidding.
The report indicates that the Hall-type IC sensors and sensors are the dominant magnetic sensor type with an 89 percent revenue market share in 2012. Applications include wheel-speed sensing in anti-lock brake systems, acceleration pedals, electronic throttle valve position, crankshaft sensing, and exhaust gas recirculation.
IHS said there are as many as 30 applications for simple switches in the body of the vehicle with Hall-effect sensors dominating in these applications. However, due to market saturation of Hall-type sensors, growth is coming from other areas, said Dixon, including anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR), giant magnetoresistance (GMR) and tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) devices.
TMR types could enter the automotive market because of their better performance compared to AMR and Hall ICs, but this isn't likely to happen before 2017, stated Dixon.