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Expanding IoT market brings opportunities to MCU space

Posted: 22 Sep 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IHS? MCU? IoT? wearable? connected car?

IHS Inc. has released a report indicating that the market for microcontroller units (MCUs) used in Internet of things (IoT) applications is climbing, which is having a positive effect on overall MCU market growth. The market for MCUs used in connected cars, wearable electronics, building automation and other IoT applications is seen to approach a CAGR of 11 per cent, from $1.7 billion in 2014 to $2.8 billion in 2019. The overall MCU market is expected to grow at a CAGR of just four per cent through 2019, stated the market research firm.

"What some still consider to be only hype surrounding emerging IoT trends has already begun disrupting the MCU market," said Tom Hackenberg, senior analyst for IHS Technology. "In fact, without the influence of IoT application growth, the MCU market is predicted to stagnate by the end of the decade."

According to IHS, IoT comprises both existing Internet Protocol (IP)-addressable devices and Internet-connectable electronic devices. This definition differs from the Internet of everything (IoE), whereby even unconnected electronics and unconnected objects are expected to be represented on the Web.

IHS sub-divides the IoT market into three distinct categories: controllers, such as PCs and smartphones; infrastructure, such as routers and servers; and nodes, such as CCTV cameras, traffic lights and appliances. "Each of these categories offers a distinct opportunity for suppliers of hardware, software and services," Hackenberg said.

MCU market in IoT apps

"The IoT trend has a strong relationship with the MCU market, as the small nodes used for connectivity, and sensor hubs to collect and log data, are primarily based on MCU platforms," Hackenberg continued. "Most serious suppliers of MCUs are already closely following the hype around the billions of connected devices; however, the industry's challenge now is to quantify this new opportunity, since IoT is a conceptual trend, not a device, application or even a new feature."

Given that IoT connectivity demands a new consideration of semiconductor features, many semiconductor companies have begun developing IoT platform solutions, while others have reorganised with an IoT division to address this real opportunity. This is especially true in the MCU market. Among the semiconductor suppliers adopting loT-focused strategies are: Atmel, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Freescale Semiconductor, Infineon Technologies, Intel, Microchip Technologies, NXP, Qualcomm, Renesas Electronics and Texas Instruments.

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