Silicon magnetic sensor market poised for growth

El Segundo, Calif. — Strong growth is projected for the silicon magnetic sensor market in 2010 as demand increases from the automotive, industrial and consumer markets, according to iSuppli Corp.

Global silicon magnetic sensor revenue will reach $1.4 billion in 2013, up from $821 million in 2009, reports iSuppli. This equates to slightly more than 5 billion magnetic sensor ICs and switches, up from about 2.8 billion units in 2009, according to the market researcher’s latest magnetic sensor report.

“Magnetic sensors represent one of the most pervasive types of sensors sold today,” says Richard Dixon, senior analyst, Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) and sensors, for iSuppli, in a statement.

“These devices are used in areas ranging from high-cost applications like industrial motors that require accurate knowledge of rotor position to control loads; to mid-priced automotive sensor ICs that measure rotation speed angle, and position; to low-cost consumer products. Because of this wide variety of uses and products, pricing for such sensor ranges from less than 10 cents for simple switches to several dollars for sophisticated programmable sensor Integrated Circuits (ICs),” Dixon says.

Magnetic sensors are available in five or more different magnetic technologies that compete for applications such as the precise measurement of the steering wheel angle as a part of a vehicle dynamics automotive safety system, says iSuppli. Silicon solutions — whether Hall effect or magneto-resistive — increasingly are taking market share from incumbent solutions, which can no longer compete as the demands on performance grow, such as the need to reduce emissions in cars or to make highly integrated sensors for mobile phones, according to the market researcher.


Dixon says Hall-effect sensor ICs and switches dominate the silicon magnetic sensor IC market, but increasingly, asymmetric magneto-resistance (AMR) and giant magneto-resistance (GMR) sensors are used for high-performance applications.

The report, “Magnetic Sensors Headed for the Big Time“, reveals that in the automotive body segment alone, the number of magnetic sensors and switches will grow from 6.7 on average in 2008 to 9.4 in 2013.

In addition, a new product category in 2009 — the electronic compass for GPS-equipped mobile phones — will drive demand for 3-axis silicon magnetometers measuring small magnetic fields out to 2013, according to the report. This application, in addition to other sensors and switches in mobile phones, will help drive this category from just 10 percent of the magnetic sensor market in 2008 to 33 percent in 2013, says iSuppli.

The report finds that Asahi Kasei Microsystems in 2009 stole the top spot in magnetic sensor revenue from Allegro Microsystems due to the fast-growing electronic compass market. Other major magnetic sensor players include Micronas, Infineon and NXP, as well as emerging companies like Sensitec and austriamicrosystems.

However, the majority of shipments of magnetic sensors used in consumer electronics and appliances is dominated by companies such as AKM and Allegro, says Dixon. But there are growing opportunities for higher priced products such as electronic compasses and rotations sensors in car engines, he adds.