Automated driving, advanced technologies and high-performance computing will drive the global market for semiconductors to grow at a CAGR of 29% in the next ten years.
Focussing on the areas of automation and electrification, IDTechEx's new 'Automotive Semiconductors 2023-2033' report explains what semiconductor technologies are needed and how their growth will drive a 10-year CAGR of 9.4% in the automotive semiconductor market. However, the report noted that semiconductors for automation would grow even faster.
The research finds that semiconductors for ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) and autonomy will grow at a 10-year CAGR of 29%. As such, autonomy will be a boon for the automotive semiconductor industry and here are three reasons for that growth.
According to the report, the fact that automated vehicles are coming is an understatement. The industry has been guilty of saying that autonomous vehicles are just around the corner for some time, but they are already here in some ways. Just last month, the Mercedes S-Class got SAE Level 3 certification in the US, following its certification in Germany in 2022. This has huge significance as the S-Class tends to be the trendsetter in the automotive industry, and the research organisation is confident that Level 3 technologies will trickle down through vehicle price points over the next decade. Even Level 4 vehicles now have an established presence in some cities. In Phoenix, Arizona, anyone can use Waymo's completely driverless robotaxis, providing the route and end destination is within select geofenced regions. Autonomous vehicles are not coming; they are here and bring more sensors, more computers, and more semiconductor demand.
Not only will autonomous vehicles bring more sensors to vehicles, but they will also require higher-performing sensors with more expensive and more advanced semiconductor technologies. Radar, for example, has previously used quite mature 90nm SiGe BiCMOS technologies, but demand for better performance means that the next generation, 4D imaging radars will be adopting Si CMOS technologies with nodes of 40nm and less. As the node size drops, these radars gain performance, but they will also gain cost.
LiDAR has been coming down in price recently, and its adoption is growing. It is a key sensor for vehicles at SAE Level 3 and above, but due to the safety benefits it can bring, IDTechEx thinks it will also begin penetrating Level 2 and below.
Near-infrared LiDARs are the most deployed at the moment, and their detectors can be built on Silicon, making them quite cheap. But the report finds that the trend in LiDAR is towards shortwave infrared, which brings performance advantages but requires more expensive InGaAs detectors. The research company sees their increased adoption and transition towards higher value semiconductor types as key drivers in the semiconductor for autonomy and ADAS markets.
Finally, these highly automated vehicles will require high-performance computers capable of thousands of TOPs (tera-operations per second). The chips inside these computers are made using some of the most advanced processes by leading semiconductor foundries like TSMC and Samsung. This will also impact the automotive semiconductor supply chain; previously, microcontrollers (MCUs) have been the main computers in cars, built on mature technology nodes by established Tier-2 suppliers such as Infineon and NXP. But, high-performance computing is beyond their internal fabrication capability, so they outsource to the East Asian giants. But others can do this as well, which is why fabless companies like Mobileye and Nvidia can get more of a stake in the automotive semiconductor market, the report said.
The vehicles of tomorrow will be more advanced and demand more advancements from the semiconductor industry. Autonomy will not just be driving individuals; it will be driving the entire automotive semiconductor industry, the report noted.
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