Components | October 07, 2011

Annual shipments of ARM processors to skyrocket

Analysis published by Semicast suggest the rapid growth of the ARM architecture is set to continue over the medium term, with annual shipments of ARM-based processors set to match the world’s population this year and forecast to equal twice the world’s population in 2015.
Based on data from the UN’s World Population Prospects database, the world population is forecast to grow from 6.1 billion in 2000 to 7.4 billion in 2016. Colin Barnden, Principal Analyst at Semicast Research and study author commented “Semicast’s analysis forecasts units of ARM-based processors growing from 0.4 billion in 2000 to 17 billion in 2016, with ARM-based processor shipments estimated to total an astonishing 95 billion units over this period”. Semicast estimates annual shipments of ARM processors will pass seven billion units in 2011, with the “two ARM cores per person” milestone of almost fifteen billion units forecast to be reached in 2015.

Cell phones has historically been the highest volume application for the ARM architecture and Semicast’s analysis suggests this will not change in the medium term. Semicast identifies the digital home as a key growth area for the ARM architecture, with strong growth forecast in applications such as ebook readers, media tablets, netbooks, games consoles, digital TVs, set-top boxes and home networking gear.

In many of these areas, ARM’s growth prospects come from multiple design-wins across the spectrum of its silicon partners, for example in applications processors (Freescale, Nvidia, Samsung, Texas Instruments), baseband processors (Mediatek, Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson), Bluetooth/Wi-Fi communications controllers (Broadcom, Marvell) and simple M0/M3 MCUs (Fujitsu, NXP, STMicroelectronics, Toshiba).

The industrial and medical sector also represents a key growth market for the ARM architecture, with strong growth forecast in applications such as smart cards, smart metering/smart grid, network-enabled field instrumentation, motor control, security/fire control, consumer medical appliances, EFT terminals and CCTV/video surveillance.

Significant growth opportunities are also forecast for the ARM architecture in the storage market, in particular for HDDs and solid state discs, while ARM continues to rapidly increase market share in the automotive sector, both in under-the-hood applications, as well as entertainment and navigation systems.

Semicast estimates the value of ARM-based embedded processors to be shipped in 2011 to total USD 32 billion (including microcontrollers, embedded microprocessors, ASICs, ASSPs and FPGAs). Qualcomm is judged to be the leading supplier of ARM-based embedded processors, ahead of Samsung Semiconductor and Texas Instruments.


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