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Semiconductors are the most essential component in an electronic device. Since electronic tools and equipment are being extensively utilized across industries, ranging from automotive to healthcare, the demand for semiconductors has skyrocketed in the last few years. The huge innovation opportunities thus created have pushed electronics companies to ramp up investments in R&D and come up with next-generation semiconductor solutions. With the widespread adoption of smart technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), these solutions are set to be leveraged on an unprecedented scale in the next decade, expanding the global market size for opto semiconductors, in the process.
Founded in 2009, Toshiba Electronic Devices & Storage Corporation is a subsidiary under the Japanese electronics major, Toshiba Corporation. The conglomerate is probably the largest semiconductor maker in Asia Pacific and one of the biggest companies in the world. Its electronic components are widely employed by companies in the electronics industry in several parts of the world. Toshiba’s singular focus on research & development and innovation has enabled it to gain a prominent position in the market of opto semiconductors. For example, in February 2021, Toshiba released the TLP241B, its high-current photo relay solution for industrial equipment such as programmable logic controllers. Similarly, in June 2020, the company launched the TLP2312, the semiconductor industry’s maiden photocoupler to facilitate high-speed communications.
Another Japan-domiciled electronics giant in this list is Mitsubishi Electric. The company was established in 1921 and has since solidified its position as one of the world’s top suppliers of electronics and electrical equipment. In recent years, Mitsubishi has made targeted acquisitions to deepen its footprint in this industry. In June 2020, for example, Mitsubishi Electric announced that it will purchase land and buildings from Sharp Fukuyama Semiconductor Co. Ltd, located in Hiroshima, Japan. The acquisition will enable Mitsubishi to process wafers to manufacture power semiconductors.
Established in 1975, LITE-ON is a Taiwanese company primarily engaged in the production of consumer electronics, including semiconductors and LEDs. The company has been collaborating with different players in the opto semiconductor domain to expand its footprint in the global marketplace. For example, LITE-ON signed a strategic partnership with II-VI Incorporated, a specialist in semiconductor lasers, in September 2019 to scale up and commercialize the manufacturing of packaged semiconductor lasers for light detection and ranging (LiDAR) applications. The aim behind this alliance is to capture the proliferating demand for LiDAR in automotive and industrial applications. In addition, the company is also investing heavily in boosting its innovation capacities, leading to the introduction of groundbreaking chip offerings. For example, in June 2019, LITE-ON rolled out a new series of high-power UVC LED single chip that boasts of higher energy output and less power consumption.
This German semiconductor veteran has been advancing semiconductor technology since its inception in 1999. OSRAM has made a name for itself as an innovator that has time and again broken frontiers of electronic technologies and the company has enhanced its prestige in 2021 as well, with the launch of path-breaking lighting and laser products.
Headquartered in Woking, England, TT Electronics is one of the foremost providers of electronic components and manufacturing services around the globe. The company has been steadily expanding its presence in the opto semiconductor market by developing and releasing inventive products with multi-industry applicability. For example, in March 2021, TT Electronics announced the introduction of a new suite of reflective object sensors under its OPB735 series. Designed to advance industrial automation and safety, the sensors’ components are sealed hermetically and can withstand temperatures as high as 100 degrees Celsius and as low as -55 degrees Celsius. Similarly, the company came out with the OPB9001 PCB Module in September 2019. This module consists of reflective sensors that have been engineered for operation in medical and industrial applications. Constant innovation thus remains the marquee growth strategy for TT Electronics.
ON Semiconductor is a Fortune 1000 company based in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. The renowned global semiconductor supplier has maintained an immovable position in the semiconductor industry, having built a diverse and robust portfolio over the past few decades, catering to unique applications across industries, such as automotive, medical, defense, and aerospace. New product roll-outs and acquisitions have been the company’s dominant strategies. In October 2020, for instance, ON launched AR0234CS, its newest CMOS image sensor, featuring global shutter technology. The sensor has been designed to deliver high performance in a variety of applications, including barcode readers, autonomous mobile robots, and machine vision cameras. The organization has also engaged in takeover activities over the past few years. To take an example, in April 2019, ON acquired Quantenna Communications, a leader in Wi-Fi solutions, to boost its portfolio of connectivity technologies and augment its development of Bluetooth and power management solutions.
Japan-based ROHM Co. has garnered name and fame worldwide for its pioneering work in the designing of semiconductors, integrated circuits, and other critical electronics components. The company has been diversifying its portfolio of products and services by designing and developing components for niche applications. In January 2021, for example, announced the introduction of its novel ultra-compact, side-emitting infrared LED called CSL1501RW. The LED set has been designed for head-mounted displays, VR/AR-based gaming, and industrial visualization. ROHM also launched its advanced vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) technology for improving the accuracy of spatial recognition and distancing measures in automotive applications in November 2020. The company is thus crystallizing its position in this market.
Vishay Intertechnology, the US-based manufacturer of discrete semiconductors and passive electronic parts, is focused on enhancing its brand and prestige in the semiconductor industry. The chief strategy adopted by the company to achieve its growth ambitions is the introduction of breakthrough products and solutions with broad capabilities. For instance, in April 2021, Vishay unveiled the Siliconix SQJA81EP, the world’s first-ever lowest on-resistance MOSFET. The device has been specifically designed to boost the efficiency and power density of components in automotive applications. In February 2021, the company embarked upon widening its optoelectronics portfolio, when it released VEMD8081, a high-speed silicon photodiode with augmented sensitivity to infrared and visible light. Its main applications are envisioned to be in wearable devices and medical operations.
With a capital stock of 28,971 million yen, Japan-based Renesas Electronics Corporation has emerged as one of the most trusted semiconductor developers in the world. The company has been directing its energies towards the development of cutting-edge semiconductor solutions in partnership with fellow competitors in the same industry. In April 2021, Renesas forged an alliance with SiFive Inc., a leader in silicon solutions, to co-develop high-end, next-generation RISC-V solutions for the automotive sector. Moreover, in a bid to further entrench its position in the market, Renesas has also been strategically acquiring companies dealing in the distribution of electronic components. The company, for instance, successfully completed the acquisition of Integrated Device Technology, one of the top global suppliers of analog mixed-signal solutions, such as sensors and connectivity devices.
US-based wireless and broadband technology major, Broadcom Corporation, has gained a notable presence as a leader in semiconductor and infrastructure software technologies. Its chipsets are being leveraged by smartphone giants to power their products. For example, in January 2021, Broadcom announced that its BCM4389 chip will drive the Samsung S21 Ultra, the industry’s maiden Wi-Fi 6E smartphone. The chip promises to deliver Wi-Fi speeds over 2Gbps, combining the features of the sixth-generation Wi-Fi technology and the 6GHz band. The company had already commercially released its 3x3 Wi-Fi 6 chip, the BCM6710, in October 2019, suitable WLAN operations, including set-top boxes. Broadcom, therefore, has built significant momentum in this market over the past few years and is likely to bolster its presence in the forthcoming years.
COVID-19 Pandemic Leaves the Semiconductor Industry in Doldrums
The sudden arrival and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in the semiconductor industry, as this industry is heavily reliant on supply chains originating from Asian countries, primarily China and parts of Southeast Asia. The world is currently reeling under an acute shortage of chips driven by the threefold blow delivered by a combination of the coronavirus, the trade war between the US and China, and insufficient air cargo transport facilities and shipping vessels. The widening supply-demand gap has forced even auto companies to halt operations. In April 2021, for instance, Jaguar Land Rover announced that semiconductor shortages are forcing the company to suspend its production activities at its facilities in Halewood and Castle Bromwich in the UK. The coronavirus crisis has thus proven to be catastrophic for many industries and recovery post the pandemic is likely to be tumultuous.