There’s High Demand for Low Power
March 15, 2022
It’s no secret that the semiconductor industry marches steadily towards more power-efficient solutions.
In 2020, 28 billion microcontrollers were shipped, 9 billion of which were ultra-low power (ULP), according to Grand View Research. The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for ULP microcontrollers between 2021 to 2027 is expected to be 23.3 percent, per market news source WhaTech. This growth is attributed primarily to power consumption being a major concern across a broad range of markets and applications, such as automotive, networking, datacenters, artificial intelligence (AI), medical devices, wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The rapidly growing mobile-device market is just one example where extending products’ battery life is essential to their success. As these fundamental shifts are underway, it’s only logical that the market is marching towards lower power.
As microcontroller makers shrink dies, for example, designers are lowering input/output (I/O) voltages, optimizing power management schemes, and improving battery technologies to maximize battery life.
Numerous market segments and applications need to move towards lower power. The increased demand and market shift towards reduced power is attributed to multiple reasons. Among them is the growth in adoption and integration of IoT-enabled smart devices such as electrocardiograms (ECGs) monitors and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs).
Additionally, there’s the expansion in sensor usage, such as temperature sensors, smart meters, and smart grids. These devices gather signals in real-time, including speed, acceleration, pressure, temperature, blood glucose, and heart rate. The data is then stored and transferred securely for further processing.
When you consider the vast implementation possibilities these sensors and IoT devices present, it makes sense that specifying lower-power devices is high on the requirements list.
Diving deeper into medical applications, for example, this market should experience a five percent annual CAGR through 2026, according to a Facts and Factors research report. Over roughly the same period, Grand View Research projects that the medical electronics market will see approximately eight percent annual CAGR through 2024.
Wearable medical electronics alone are expected to see a 24 percent annual CAGR through 2025, per a study by ResearchAndMarkets.com. We can expect, therefore, that a large portion of the market growth in medical applications will be attributed to battery-operated wearable devices.
With the increase in remote care, an aging population, and healthcare becoming more accessible globally, the industry will be defined increasingly by patients relying on these electronic devices. And they’ll require more sensors to continuously read, monitor, and process data sets, as well as be able to transmit data to secure cloud storage facilities. Due to these extra components required to deliver the needed functionality, minimizing power to conserve battery life is imperative.
While the medical-electronics market serves as a powerful example of not only sensor adoption growth but also the need for system designers to manage the power budget caused by the increase of sensors, it is by no means the only example. One can look no further than the Internet of Things (IoT).
There is rapid growth in the industrial market, for example, in which IoT devices are expected to reach nearly 31 billion by 2025, doubling the 2021 figure, according to a market report by Statista. This should come as no surprise considering the trends towards industrial automation and smart manufacturing, both of which are ushering in what’s come to be known as Industry 4.0.
Other markets show equally impressive growth projections. Networking’s deployment of IoT solutions is expected to grow 21.6 percent in 2022, Statista research says. In the communications sector, the CAGR for 5G IoT is expected to be 73 percent, according to ResearchAndMarkets.
Lastly, an early trend in lower-power electronic systems for the automotive market can be found in the electric vehicles (EV) segment. This includes the two- and four-wheel varieties, along with hybrid electric bicycles, where aggregated power consumption matters when trying to extend the battery recharge cycle. Lower-power requirements will most likely be met with designs featuring more extensive power management and lower-power, general-purpose processors being chosen.
These examples and market figures point incontrovertibly to a shift towards lower power. It’s not an exaggeration to state that lives and businesses’ bottom lines depend on minimizing power. Macronix and its partners are committed to supporting low power through each of the above-cited markets’ ecosystems. The near-term objective is to leverage advancements in microprocessors, flash memory, and sensors to achieve lower-power systems throughout.
Omar Mohammed is the Technical Marketing Manger at Macronix America, Inc. (www.macronix.com).