Science Technology

PMIC chips in short supply

Recently, the PMIC market has become a hot topic.
First of all, in 2021, China’s domestic display panel PMIC chip market scale will be close to US $700 million, and at the same time, the PMIC chip in the north will become the first domestic product in the domestic display panel PMIC chip market share. This is the first time that the market share of Unitech North in this market has exceeded that of Richtek.
At the same time, due to the booming PMIC market, including Qualcomm and MediaTek, are seeking to shift the manufacturing of PMIC chips from 8-inch wafers to 12-inch wafers.
While the market is booming, relevant domestic manufacturers also perform well in 2021 driven by this market. The operating revenue of Shengbang Micro increased by 87.07%, the total operating revenue of Xinpeng Micro increased by 75.44%, the revenue of Jingfeng Mingyuan increased by 108.75%, the revenue of Shanghai Beiling increased by 51.95%, and the revenue of Siripu increased by 134.06%.
Why did PMIC chips explode?
PMIC (power management chip) is a chip with a wide range of applications, including industrial and network devices, including smart phones, tablets, solid-state drives, networks and wireless Internet of Things devices, as well as power management IC for specific applications, which is applicable to a wide range of automotive, consumer electronics, industrial and network applications, including automotive TFT displays and ultrabooks, laptops and tablets.
As a key device to manage the power supply of electronic equipment, PMIC can integrate multiple functions to make more effective use of space and manage system power. The functions that PMIC can realize usually include voltage converter and regulator, battery charger, battery meter, LED driver, real-time clock, power sequencer and power control.
It is precisely because of the fundamental role of PMIC in electronic equipment that PMIC is one of the largest market segments of analog chips, although it is inconspicuous. As long as the working equipment uses electricity, almost all of them need such chips, from household appliances to mobile computers, from communication base stations to smart cars. This is why PMIC is so popular.
China’s PMIC manufacturers’ initial effect
The PMIC circuit has a broad prospect, and the entry threshold is relatively low. PMIC emphasizes reliability and stability, and has a long periodicity after mass production. These characteristics make PMIC become a circuit for domestic manufacturers to compete.
Simbond micro power management analog chips include LDO, microprocessor power monitoring circuit, DC/DC step-down converter, DC/DC step-up converter, DC/DC step-down converter, backlight and flash LED driver, AMOLED power chip, PMU, OVP and load switch, battery charge and discharge management chip, battery protection chip, motor driver chip, MOSFET driver chip, etc.
Among the power management products of Shanghai Belling, a vehicle specification LDO and an LED driver chip will be sold in batches in 2021, and there are also many power products that have received the intended demand from automotive electronics customers. It is expected that they will be sold in succession in 2022. The number of industrial and vehicle-level power management chip products in Shanghai Beiling has continued to increase, further increasing its market share in industrial control, communication and automotive electronic power management chip market. In 2021, the sales volume will reach 650 million, with a year-on-year increase of 10.29%, and the gross profit rate will reach 42.49%.
The power management chip of SREP is mainly used in the field of new energy vehicles (automobiles, inverters, power modules, power facilities), information and communication (base stations, optical networks, repeaters, servers, routing, gateways, wireless terminals), industrial control (frequency converters, unmanned aerial vehicles, motor drives, robots, programmable logic control) Medical health (blood oximeter, blood pressure meter, infrared thermometer, ECG and patient monitor) and instrumentation (test and measurement equipment, multimeter, oscilloscope, heat meter, gas meter, water meter). The revenue in 2021 was 1.33 billion yuan, up 141.32% year on year.
Jingfeng Mingyuan’s products mainly include LED lighting driver chips, built-in AC/DC power management chips, external AC/DC power management chips and DC/DC power management chips. The revenue in 2021 will be 2.302 billion yuan, with a year-on-year increase of 108.75%.
Ming Microelectronics launched drive IC and intelligent lighting and power management products suitable for the trend of Mini and Micro display. In 2021, the sales revenue of AC/DC drive chips for power management chips increased from 12.03 million yuan last year to 22.44 million yuan, an increase of 86.52% over the same period last year; The sales revenue of DC/DC driver chips increased from 2.75 million yuan last year to 4.58 million yuan, an increase of 66.85% over the same period last year.
As stated in the opening article, domestic PMIC manufacturers have seen rising performance in 2021. This also led to the performance of domestic wafer foundries in 2021. Huahong’s financial report shows that the revenue of simulation and power management will increase by 84.7% in 2021; The boom of power management also lasted until the first quarter of 22 years. Huahong said that the sales revenue from the United States in this quarter was 58.1 million dollars, up 105.1% year on year, mainly due to the increase in demand for other power management products.
PMIC can be divided into low-power PMIC and high-performance PMIC. Low-power PMIC is mainly used in wearable devices, sensors and Internet of Things devices. Such devices have high requirements for chip size. High-performance PMIC can maximize the performance per watt, and improve the system efficiency of compute-intensive platforms, such as system-on-chip (SoC), FPGA and application processors.
Taking the PMIC required by FPGA as an example, FPGA suppliers usually cooperate with power management IC (PMIC) chip manufacturers to develop power subsystem design to provide the required power rail for their FPGA. If FPGAs from multiple suppliers are used, it may not be possible to use the same PMIC to power different brands of FPGAs. For domestic manufacturers, most of their products are also concentrated in low-end PMIC products. Facing the new application field of PMIC, there is still a certain distance from large factories.
PMIC technology improvement direction
Process technology
With the continuous evolution of Moore’s Law, the process nodes of integrated circuit devices are shrinking in the direction of advanced 10nm and 7nm, and the device microstructure has an increasing impact on the speed, reliability, power consumption and other performance of digital chips. In order to ensure the normal operation of the constantly evolving digital chip, it also expedites the constant update and iteration of the matching analog chip. The structure of integrated circuit devices has been iteratively changed with the advancement of technology nodes. In the future, new technology nodes may appear, which will make the linewidth of devices continue to shrink to 3 nm and below. Simulator devices will also be continuously updated and evolved.
At present, the main manufacturing technology adopted by PMIC is BCD (BIPOLAR-CMOS-DMOS). BCD is a power integrated circuit manufacturing technology. ST invented this technology in the mid-1980s. BCD process is a technology that can integrate BJT, CMOS and DMOS devices on a single chip at the same time.
Compared with the traditional BJT process, the BCD process has significant advantages in power applications. It allows circuit designers to freely choose between high-precision analog BJT devices, high-integration CMOS devices and DMOS devices as power output stages. The integrated BCD process can significantly reduce power consumption, improve system performance, increase reliability and reduce costs.
The BCD process technology has developed from the first generation of 4um BCD process to the latest 65nm BCD process. The line width has been continuously reduced, and more advanced multi-metal interconnection technology has also been adopted; On the other hand, BCD process is developing towards standardization and modularization. Its mixed process is composed of standard basic processes. Designers can add or subtract corresponding process steps according to their own needs.
As PMIC will be used in more complex and high voltage environments, PMIC needs BCD technology to develop in three directions: high voltage, high power and high density, ultimately improving the reliability and stability of analog integrated circuits.
Advanced materials
In addition to technology, in order to further improve the performance of PMIC, the industry is also studying SOI materials. SOI is a semiconductor material based on monocrystalline silicon for integrated circuit manufacturing, which can replace the widely used bulk silicon material. The principle of SOI is that the parasitic capacitance between silicon transistors can be doubled by adding insulator material between them. The advantage is that it can easily increase the time pulse and reduce the current leakage to become a power-saving IC. Some photomask can also be omitted in the process to save costs, so it has its advantages in both technology and circuit.
SOI can prevent electronic loss and strengthen the disadvantages of some original Bulk wafers. The integrated circuits produced by SOI have the characteristics of high speed and low power consumption, so SOI technology is widely used to manufacture large-scale integrated circuits. In various application fields of analog integrated circuits. In addition to its high speed and low power consumption, SOI has excellent electrical isolation performance and has become an ideal choice for some analog RF chips; The feature of no Latch-up solves the reliability problems of many high-voltage analog signal processing circuits and high-voltage power supply chips.
SOI technology has greatly expanded the application fields in analog integrated circuits. Driven by the market, the production process of SOI has also been continuously improved, its performance has gradually stabilized, and its cost has been continuously reduced. At present, the main production processes of SOI 17 include oxygen injection isolation (SIMOX), bonding re-thinning (BESOI), intelligent stripping (Smart-Cut), epitaxial layer transfer (ELTRAN), etc.
Functional integration
In addition, the future trend of PMIC is bound to develop towards higher performance and efficiency. It not only includes this simple function of voltage conversion, but also integrates some other functions. Take Maxon MAX20069C as an example, this IC integrates a step-down to step-up converter, a step-up converter, two grid driver power supplies and a step-up/SEPIC converter, which can supply power to one to four LED strings in the display backlight.
New power of PMIC
According to the statistical data of CINNO Research, the power management chips purchased by panel enterprises in Chinese Mainland will reach nearly 700 million dollars in 2021. In the future, with the continuous release of mainland G10.5/11 high generation line capacity and the production of several new panel production lines such as CSOT t9, the demand for power management chips from mainland local panel manufacturers will continue to grow.
The reason why Unitech North can take the first place in the PMIC market of the domestic display industry is that Unitech North has a complete layout around the new display industry in recent years, including display driver chips, power management chips, LED display driver chips, timing control chips, fingerprint identification chips, touch chips, silicon-based OLED chips and other full range of display chips.
For domestic manufacturers, the design for PMIC needs to be more forward-looking, so as to have the opportunity to seize the opportunity when it comes, just like the Jichuang North. According to the prediction of TMR, an international market research agency, the global market size of power management chips will reach US $56.5 billion by 2026, and the compound annual growth rate will reach 10.7% between 2018 and 2026.
In the future, automotive electronics, industrial applications, and big data processing centers will become new drivers of PMIC growth. For domestic PMIC manufacturers, the future is bright.