Tight supplies of devices in automotive, industrial, and embedded-control applications drive up prices, causing double-digit percentage revenue growth in most sensor categories.
Fueled by the spread of “smart” embedded controls and higher selling prices due to tight supplies in the market, semiconductor sensor sales are forecast to continue to register double-digit percentage growth in 2022 compared to last year, according to IC Insights’ upcoming November 4Q22 Update of The McClean Report service. However, weakening economic conditions and high inflation rates around the world have slowed sensor unit demand in consumer electronics, personal computers, and mainstream smartphone segments since the start of summer.
Sensor unit shipments are forecast to grow just 1% in 2022, but will nudge up to a record-high 30.8 billion devices compared to 30.4 billion in 2021. Total sensor sales in the fourth quarter were on an annual pace to grow 13% in 2022 to an all-time high of $14.4 billion from $12.7 billion last year, according to IC Insights’ 4Q22 Update forecast (Figure 1).
Tight supplies and shortages of sensors for automotive systems, industrial equipment, and other embedded-control applications have significantly increased the average selling price (ASP) of these semiconductors. IC Insights expects the 2022 ASP for total sensors will be 11% higher than in 2021, representing the largest one-year price percentage increase in more than two decades.
Sales in two major sensor categories are expected to finish this year with double-digit percentage increases: +15% for acceleration/yaw sensors; and +20% for magnetic-field sensors (including electronic compass chips often found in navigation applications). Meanwhile, sales of pressure sensing devices (including microphone chips) are forecast to only grow 5% in 2022 due to constraints in automotive production and a drop off in smartphone shipments this year.
Pressure sensor sales are projected to increase to $4.8 billion this year with shipments rising just 0.4% to 8.5 billion units. Revenues in the acceleration/yaw category, which contain accelerometers and gyroscope designs for inertial sensing, are expected to reach $5.5 billion in 2022 with unit shipments rising a little less than 0.5% to 7.1 billion this year. The McClean Report’s 4Q Update also shows magnetic-field sensor sales hitting $3.3 in 2022 with unit shipments growing 1% to 12.7 billion.
Nearly three quarters of annual semiconductor sensor sales are generated by products made with microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. Tiny MEMS structures, in built silicon, detect and measure changes in pressure sensors, microphone chips, and acceleration/yaw sensors. MEMS-based devices now account for 54% of total sensor unit shipments worldwide. Sales of sensors containing MEMS technology are expected to grow 5% this year to a record-high $10.8 billion while shipments of these devices are projected to increase 7% to an all-time annual peak of 16.7 billion in 2022.