UPDATED. 2024-07-12 07:53 (금)
LX Semicon’s IPM passes LG Electronics’ prototype test
LX Semicon’s IPM passes LG Electronics’ prototype test
  • JY Han
  • 승인 2024.07.01 17:15
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DDI maker to challenge Sanken’s dominance
Image: LX Semicon
Image: LX Semicon

Fabless chip firm LX Semicon is entering the intelligent power module (IPM) market, TheElec has learned.

The company has succeeded in developing a 600volt (V) IPM for use in home appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioners and was in talks with LG Electronics for a supply deal, sources said.

The prototype has passed LG Electronics’ evaluation and LX Semicon will go through a production test in the second half of the year, they added.

The prototype was well received by LG Electronics so the fabless chip firm, which specializes in display driver IC (DDI), is expected to pass the production test without problem, they also said.

Supply of the chips is expected to start next year and LX Semicon is expecting revenues of 20 billion won to 25 billion won from its deal with LG Electronics.

LX Semicon has been developing the DDI and MOSFET used in the IPM for the past two years. It is also seeking to secure customers besides LG Electronics.

IPM combines power conversion and control features into one. It can perform DC-AC, AC-DC, and DC-DC conversions can block short circuits. The module also shuts down operations when the temperature increases beyond on a certain threshold.

Sanken Electric has been the dominant supplier of IPM and the main supplier of the modules to LG Electronics.

However, this reliance meant the South Korean electronics maker was also limited in reacting when there were problems with the modules and it wanted a secondary supplier.

LX Semicon and Sanken Electric have a complicated relationship.

The pair formed a joint venture called Advanced Power Device Technology in March 2018, with LX Semicon controlling a 49% stake and Sanken Electric 51%. 

Around the same time, Sanken Electric acquired with 16 billion won through a private equity (IBKS Semicon PEF) the ownership of EK, a company formed by Koo Hyung-mo, the son of LX Group chairman Koo Bon-joon. The younger Koo reportedly sold his take on EK before the implementation of regulation over unfair trade among shareholders.

This is why LX Semicon was expected to collaborate with Sanken Electric in IPM. However, there is no such collaboration and LX Semicon is going at it alone at the current time. Essentially, the pair are now rivals.

Meanwhile, LX Semicon is diversifying its portfolio to reduce its reliance on DDI. It has launched power management ICs, microcontroller units, and heat dissipation boards. LX Semicon’s latest CEO Lee Yun-tae, however, was looking to find a new business area that can reap hundreds of billions of won in revenue, sources said.

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