MEMS-based devices gain market share in fast-growing sensor sector

June 12, 2012 — Semiconductor sensor sales will grow 18% in 2012 to a record $5.7 billion, and continue double-digit growth rates and record-high revenues each year through 2016. The catalyst for growth is embedded features that let sensors automatically control and protect themselves, understand movement, detect changes around them, and support new user interfaces, shows IC Insights’ 2012 Optoelectronics, Sensors/Actuators, and Discretes (O-S-D) Report.

Annual sensors sales declined only once (2% in 2009) since the late 1990s, which was followed by a 53% surge in 2010 and 21% in 2011. Between 2011 and 2016, worldwide sensor sales will increase by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18%, to $10.9 billion in 2016.

Figure. Trajectory of sensor sales 2008-2016. SOURCE: IC Insights.

Within the sensor market segment, accelerometers and gyroscope devices (i.e., acceleration and yaw sensors) continue to be the largest and fastest-growing product category, with dollar volumes projected to increase by a 20% CAGR to $5.9 billion in 2016 compared to $2.4 billion in 2011.  Sales of magnetic-field sensors, such as Hall-effect devices and electronic compass chips, will grow by a CAGR of 16% to $2.7 billion in 2016 from $1.3 billion in 2011, according to IC Insights’ new O-S-D Report.  Pressure sensor sales are expected to rise by a 15% CAGR to $2.0 billion in 2016, from about $1.0 billion in 2011.

Accelerometers and gyroscope devices, along with most pressure sensors, use micro electro mechanical system (MEMS) structures to measure and detect changes around them. MEMS-based devices now account for about 70% of total sensor revenues compared to 54% in 2005. MEMS-based sensors sales will grow at a 19% CAGR 2011-2016, shows IC Insights.

Sensors are part of a broader semiconductor market segment that also includes actuators, such as micro-mirror devices, surface-acoustic wave (SAW) filters, microfluidic chips, inkjet nozzle components, and other MEMS-based products that initiate physical actions from electronic signals.  Sensor sales accounted for 56% of this market’s overall sales in 2011, while actuators represented 44%, or $3.7 billion, last year. MEMS-based actuator sales are expected to grow by a CAGR of 15% to $7.5 billion in 2016, according to the new O-S-D Report’s five-year forecast.

The 2012 edition of the O-S-D Report provides detailed analysis of trends and growth rates in the optoelectronics, sensors/actuators, and discretes market segments. The seventh annual edition of the report contains a detailed forecast of sales, unit shipments, and selling prices for more than 30 individual product types and categories through 2016. Access IC Insights’ new and existing market research products and services please visit our website:

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