Sensor hub chips show spectacular growth, finds market analyst

April 17, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
According to analysis by market researchers IHS Technology, sensor hubs that offload tasks from power-hungry application processors and let mobile devices like smartphones and tablets run longer on a single battery charge are growing fast thanks to corresponding growth in use of MEMS, with shipment growth this year alone over 100%

Worldwide shipments of sensor hubs in 2014 will reach a projected 658.4 million units, up 154%, from 259.6 million units last year. The market has been rising fast since 2011, when shipments first started from a low initial base. The 2012 growth rate, for instance, exceeded 2,000%. IHS predicts on-going growth out to 2017, of an overall 1,300% to shipments of 1.3 billion units (see chart).

Marwan Boustany, senior analyst for MEMS & sensors at IHS confirms, “The use of sensor hubs is increasingly crucial because of the push for ‘always on’ sensors used for activity monitoring, voice-command operation and contextual awareness.”

Most of sensor processing today is performed by software running on an application processor, but this approach is too power hungry when sensor processing must continuously run in the background. With rising use by handsets and tablets of sensors—not just motion sensors but also microphones and light sensors—the need for a low-power solution becomes crucial. By centralising sensor processing in a more efficient way through sensor hubs, power usage and battery life are optimised.

These findings are contained in the report, “Motion Sensors Report - Handsets and Tablets – 2014,” from the Semiconductor & Components service of IHS.

Next; alternate sensor hub formats compete