Event debrief: PCIM Europe 2019 trade show in Nuremberg, Germany May 7 – 9
The following are key power-supply technology trends based on observations and discussions from the PCIM Europe 2019 Trade Show held in Nuremberg, Germany from May 7 to 10.
1. Focus on 5G applications
- With the 5G market expected to start developing starting at the end of 2019, most—if not all—power-supply companies are developing solutions catering to various segments related to wider 5G applications, including infrastructure, communications, storage, computing and fixed wireless access (FWA).
2. Focus on high-power solutions with enhanced energy/power efficiency
- Most of the power-supply players seem to be developing high-power solutions, with an equal focus on an increase in power efficiencies, while being conscious of keeping costs contained.
3. Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and data-center markets
- There’s been an increase in business focus on the UPS and data-center markets, where growth in revenues and margins is expected to be higher than other applications.
4. Cloud storage market
- In line with the above trends-—i.e., the increased focus on the UPS and data-center markets - power supply companies are also focussing on developing solutions specifically related to cloud-storage and cloud-computing applications, where growth prospects seem good.
5. Automotive market:
- Automotive industry working towards car electrification and digitization technology. This was one of the key focus areas for most of the semiconductor and component manufacturers.
6. USB Type C – Power Delivery (USBC-PD) solutions
- Increase in adoption of USBC-PD protocol, across device segments – consumer, computing devices, as shift towards use of USB Type C port is also expanding across product segments.
7. Miniaturisation (Nanofication)
- Developing hi-capacity power adapters and chargers or hi-end converters, which are relatively compact and much smaller in size, while providing similar or even more power. One good example is the universal power adapter for the consumer segment, as discussed below.
8. Universal external power adapter with high-power capabilities (45W/65W/100W power range)
- To increase interoperability, convenience and the use of a common adaptor across consumer applications, we see a trend toward the development of a common high-power universal adapter. This is becoming more practical due to the availability of the USBC -PD solution as well as trends towards miniaturization making the adaptor much more compact and sleeker.
9. Better power management systems (PMS)
- Backed by technology enhancements, and driven by the need for more features, higher-capacity batteries, better battery life and improved heat/thermal management systems, almost all power supply companies are focusing on providing better PMSes and solutions.
10. Customized power solutions
- With customized power-supply solutions is set to become a new trend, many power-supply companies are increasing their focus on developing customized solutions, which not only provide better margins, but also instil customer loyalty in this highly volatile market. This trend is more prevalent in specialized medical devices and a few industrial segments.
11. Aggressive promotion of wide band-gap solutions (SiC vs GaN)
- This year at PCIM, companies offering GaN and SiC products jostled for attention.
- There was a great deal of focus and discussion around the expected growth in use of silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitrite (GaN) across various applications.
i. Respective semiconductor companies presented their product solutions and their investment, production and capacity build-up plans for SiC and GaN solutions, which cater to a wider range of applications.
ii. For example, Cree mentioned its plans to invest $1 billion to expand SiC capacity.
- The wide band-gap market is already looking very competitive between SiC and GaN manufacturers.
12. Focus towards wireless power market
- Power-supply companies were more aware and knowledgeable and had a good understanding of the benefits and prospective growth in adoption of wireless power/charging technology across applications and product segments.
- Compared to last year, we see many more power supply and semiconductor companies developing solutions on their own or in partnership for the wireless power technology market, with more focus on the medium- and high-power segments.
i. Many companies were promoting 15W multi-coil transmitter solutions conforming with the Qi standard and focusing on the consumer-electronics mark
ii. A few companies demonstrated solutions for higher power segments, i.e., 200W-300W for kitchen appliances, power tools and robotic applications.
iii. A couple of companies were also promoting wireless power solutions for 5G applications, with ~600W power range solutions.
iv. There was also developmental work in the high-power segment, catering to the up to 2kW power range.
- For example, WiBotic and GaN Systems demonstrated high-power wireless charging solutions for robots. High-power wireless charging for autonomous robots is an essential component in Industry 4.0. WiBiotic, a wireless charging and power optimization solution provider, presented its innovative solutions at PCIM 2019 in partnership with GaN Systems.
- Similarly, Efficient Power Conversion along with its partners PowerSphyr and NuCurrent showcased some innovative wireless-power solutions.
· EV wireless-charging solutions
i. With the electric vehicle (EV) market expected to grow, we also are seeing many power-supply companies increasing their focus on the automotive segment for the wirelessly charged electric vehicle market.
13. Embedded solution
- There were also a few discussions focused on the development of embedded solutions and how companies are integrating them to provide more comprehensive and compact solutions catering to demand from ODMs and OEMs.
14. Increase in partnering, collaboration and merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunities
- As the technology market landscape becomes more interconnected, we are seeing more opportunities for non-competing companies to partner, collaborate and promote their solutions collectively. Cross-company promotion and support is increasing as markets converge and evolve.
- This also suggests further consolidation of the power-supply and semiconductor markets is coming. We expect to hear more news about mergers and acquisitions (M&A) later this year.