In a business world where seemingly everything is going digital, there is one area where ‘old school’ design practices and methods are going absolutely nowhere. In fact, in this industry, the demand for analog design has never been greater. Yes, as you may well have guessed, we’re talking about the semiconductor industry. This is driven by a spike in demand for Analog, RF and mixed signal ICs across so many new industries.
According to estimates, the worldwide market for Analog ICs was valued at €71 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to grow to €102 billion by 2028, reflecting a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.3%.
With this in mind, we’re taking a closer look at the exact reasons why this is a great time to be involved in or join the field of analog design.
But before we get to that.
What is Analog Design?
Okay, so let’s start with the basics.
Analog integrated circuit (IC) design is hugely different to digital IC design. Where digital IC design is primarily on an abstract level, analog IC design takes on a much more customised approach to each circuit, including the sizing and details of individual transistors.
Similar to digital IC design, analog design teams begin with a set of specifications and features. Using functional models, they further refine the constraints and make decisions on device size, type, and other process features. This may involve selecting transistors, creating a high-level floorplan, incorporating inductor and capacitor technologies, and determining the desired figure-of-merit for both the IC and sub-circuits.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it than just that, but let’s dive into the reasons why this particular design process is such an exciting field right now.
Analog IC now used in a huge number of industries
Anyone that works in the semiconductor industry knows that business is booming and with good reason. From the motor industry through to wearable tech, there are so many industries that are making use of analog IC technology that it’s actually difficult to keep up.
Take the motor industry for example. There is huge growth due to the rapid expansion of new energy vehicles (NEVs) in both domestic and international markets, as well as the increased need for analog chips in automotive electronics. For example, in 2021, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reported that roughly 2.9 million battery electric vehicles were produced, marking a 166% increase compared to 2020. Additionally, around 601,000 plug-in electric vehicles were manufactured in China in the same year.
And that’s just one industry in one country. We also have the rapid expansion of 5G across the globe and its required bases and technology. Then there’s wearable tech, medical devices, space exploration; the list goes on and on and on.
Increased job opportunities
As you can imagine, with so many industries now dependent on analog IC tech, the demand for talented designers and engineers is through the roof. This is exacerbated by the global talent shortage which could result in 85 million unfilled roles by 2030.
This means that employers now struggle to find the right talent for Analog design roles and often look abroad for their talent needs. In a global market or even just within the EU, this results in a greater number of job opportunities for a qualified analog IC designer.
Better pay and benefits
As a result of the spike in demand for analog designers and engineers, and the move towards an employee-centric work/life balance, salaries and benefits have improved a great deal in recent years. While the average salary for an Analog Layout Designer has remained steady at around the €70,000 mark here in Ireland, the benefits packages have improved.
More remote working days offered where possible, better health benefits, and more focus on the development of one’s skills are just some of the increased benefits we’ve seen across the board. And that leads us to our next point.
More opportunities for development
The fast-moving pace of the many industries that now make use of Analog IC technology means that those working within the industry are often expected to develop their own skills to meet with the demands of their field. Add to this the talent shortage that sees employers focus heavily on employee retention and the opportunities for skills and career development are significant to say the least.
A challenging but rewarding field
As noted earlier, with the integration of analog IC usage throughout many industries, it really is an exciting time to be involved in the design process. As more companies launch and new devices are created, there is a huge opportunity here for a talented individual who wants to be a part of new developments within the industry.
The industry is no longer stagnant. It’s now exciting and challenging for everyone involved. In simple terms, it’s your job to make ideas come to life. And that’s a challenge that practically anyone involved with engineering or design at any level will welcome with open arms.
As you can see, this really is one of the best times to be involved in the analog design aspect of the semiconductor industry and those industries that now make use of analog IC technology. Yet, despite this, there is still a significant shortfall in students studying electronic engineering opting to specialise in analog design. Remember what we said earlier about talent shortages and job opportunities?
If you’re interested in working in the analog design niche here in Ireland, then get in touch with Software Placements. We’ve helped professionals from both Ireland and abroad take the next step in their career and would love to have a chat with you about your goals for the future.