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Electronics Production | October 27, 2006

Optoelectronics sales will barely top discrete<br>semiconductors in 2006

Optoelectronics and discrete semiconductor sales both strengthened in the first nine months of 2006, while the high-flying sensor/actuator market segment lost a little momentum because of price erosion despite strong gains in unit-volume shipments so far this year.
IC Insights now expects optoelectronics revenues to grow 13% to a record-high $16.8 billion in 2006. This total will edge out discrete semiconductor sales, which are forecast to rise 8% to $16.5 billion this year. As expected, 2006 is on track to become the first year in history when optoelectronics surpasses the size of the discretes market on an annual basis. In a recent update of the market forecast in IC Insights' 2006 Optoelectronics, Sensor, and Discrete (O-S-D) Report, the projected 2006 gap between optoelectronics and discrete sales has been narrowed to just $300 million for the entire year. Strong dollar growth in power transistors has helped the discretes market segment to stage a substantial recovery in 2006 after declining 3% in 2005. However, it will still take another year before the discretes segment exceeds its $16.9 billion record high set in 2000, according to IC Insights' outlook. Discrete semiconductor sales are now expected to grow 5% to $17.4 billion in 2007. The sensor and actuator segment is forecast to grow 21% to a record-high $5.5 billion in 2006 compared to $4.5 billion in 2005. Earlier this year, IC Insights' O-S-D forecast called for a 26% increase in sensor/actuator sales this year. Unit shipments in this segment are expected climb 21% in 2006, but flat average selling prices (ASPs) have lowered dollar growth this year. About 80% of semiconductor sensors and nearly all actuator devices employ micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technologies. These MEMS-based products include pressure sensors, accelerometers, gyroscope devices, and micro-mirror semiconductors. In optoelectronics, sales are being driven higher by strong growth in image sensors, which are used in digital cameras and camera cell phones, as well as transmission laser devices used in high-speed optical networks. IC Insights expects image sensor revenues to increase 18% to nearly $7.5 billion in 2006, with about 60% of the sales coming from CMOS image sensors. By 2010, the optoelectronics market is expected to reach $29.1 billion, compared to $19.8 billion for discrete semiconductors and $11.4 billion for solid-state sensor/actuator devices, based on IC Insights' forecast.
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