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ARM leads in digital home space

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded processing? digital home? x86?

According to market analyst Semicast Research Ltd, ARM is the leading embedded processing architecture in the digital home.

For several years, ARM has held on to the #1 spot as the embedded processing architecture used in the digital home space. However, ARM gets stiff competition from MIPS in individual applications such as home networking gear, media player/MP3 players, digital cameras, digital TVs, set-top boxes and DVD recorders.

According to Semicast, ARM still leads the handheld games market with two next-gen platfroms, Nintendo 3DS and Sony Vita, both using ARM. Power Architecture, on the other hand, dominates in the wired games console category with design-wins for the Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii (and the upcoming Wii U) and Microsoft Xbox 360. However, Power Architecture's revenue in other areas of the digital home will be dismal, Semicast noted. According to Semicast, Power Architecture's dominance in game consoles will also be challenged by ARM in the release of the next-generation Xbox. This will stall the company's mid-term revenues, following a short term boost from production of next-generation games consoles.

Historically, the x86 architecture was not often used in digital home applications. The architecture's price, performance and power consumption is not suited for most consumer applications. However, emergence of media tablets and netbooks as a high growth category offers an ideal platform for the x86 architecture to establish its presence in digital home applications. By 2016, revenues for x86 in the digital home will surpass those of Power Architecture, Semicast said. Semicast also sees strong growth for the x86 architecture in digital TVs and set-top boxes.

"ARM's future success in the digital home is forecast across most equipment types, but one of the leading areas for growth is set to be eBook readers, media tablets and netbooks. Here, ARM has achieved a significant early lead against its main architectural rivals, with design-wins in products such as the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad/iPad2, Barnes & Noble Nook, BlackBerry Playbook, Motorola Xoom, and Sony S1/S2," said Colin Barnden, principal analyst at Semicast.

In many of these products, ARM's leadership position comes from multiple design-wins across the spectrum of its silicon partners including applications processor (Freescale, Nvidia, Samsung, and Texas Instruments), baseband processor (Mediatek, Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson), Bluetooth/Wi-Fi communications controller (Broadcom and Marvell) and simple M0/M3 MCU (Fujitsu, NXP and STMicroelectronics).

Broadcom and Samsung were the two leading suppliers of embedded processors for digital home applications in 2010, with IBM, Renesas Electronics and Texas Instruments completing the top five. Collectively, the top five suppliers accounted for almost half of the market share.

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