A load switch is an electronic component that operates like a relay but has no moving parts. It is used to turn on and off power rails in systems. Simple load switches comprise of four pins, input and output voltage, ground, and enable. When the device is turned ON through the enabled button, the current flows from the input pin to output pin of the pass FET, thereby allowing the power to pass through the downstream circuitry. The pass FET is the key part of the load switch that regulates the maximum load current and maximum input voltage that the load switch can handle. Several load switches have an internal resistor that pull the output to ground when the switch is turned off and prevent it from floating. Thus, a load switch is used to connect and disconnect a load from a source to power up or down, or to save energy when a load is not required. These switches find applications in several products including laptops, smartphones, tablets, watches and wearable, and other battery-operated devices owing to their capability of saving space and power while managing inrush current. Furthermore, they are also being used to limit the leakage current and power consumption by turning off power to the sub-systems that are used only during certain modes of operation.
Major factor driving the load switch market include its rising demand in power distribution, power sequencing, and power state transition. Many systems have limited control of sub-systems power distribution. Instead of using multiple DC-DC convertors or linear dropout regulator, load switches can be used to turn on and off sub-systems of the same input voltage. Also, by means of a load switch, power can be circulated across several loads with control for each individual load. Similarly, load switches can provide independent control of each power path to provide simplified point-of-load control for power sequencing and power state transition. Therefore, they are increasingly used in power distribution, power sequencing, and power state transition applications.
Moreover, load switch can be integrated with fault protection features such as ON pin hysteresis, reverse current protection, under voltage lock-out current limiting, and over temperature protection. Instead of implementing complex circuits through discrete components, integrated load switch is expected to reduce solution size, development time, and BOM count in certain applications in spite of its simpler design.
The load switch market can be classified on the basis of type, maximum rated current, application, and geography. In terms of product type, the load switch market can be segmented into high voltage load switch and low voltage load switch. Further, high voltage load switch can be further bifurcated into oil-immersed type and vacuum type. In terms of maximum rated current, the market can be classified into 1.25A, 1.5A, 2A, and others. Based on application, the load switch market can be segmented into telecommunication equipment, computer equipment and peripherals, televisions and set top boxes, stereo receivers, home appliances, security systems, automated test equipment, garage door openers, automotive motor controls, and others. Based on geography, the load switch market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific (APAC), Middle East & Africa (MEA), and South America. North America and Asia Pacific are expected to be highly attractive regions for the load switch market owing to the presence of large number of semiconductor manufacturers in these regions.
Prominent players operating in the load switch market include Analog Devices Inc., Fairchild Semiconductor Corp., NXP Semiconductors N.V., ON Semiconductor Corp, Renesas Electronics Corporation, Rohm Corporation, Skyworks Solutions, Inc., Toshiba Corporation, and Vishay Intertechnology, Inc., Siemens AG, Rohm Corporation, STMicroelectronics N.V., Diodes Inc., Semtech Corporation and Texas Instruments, Inc.
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