The microcontroller (MCU) is a ubiquitous semiconductor IC, present not only in electronics systems but also in nearly every machine/device/system/equipment used for applications as wide as agriculture to toothbrushes to space stations. EMITT Solutions estimates a total worldwide revenue of around 17 Billion US$ generated by microcontrollers in 2013. Due to the growth of IoT, connected home appliances in smart-home, solar power systems, smart energy systems and electric-vehicles, EMITT Solutions forecasts a global microcontroller revenue growth of 15% in 2014 and 20% in 2015 and a shipment growth of 20% in 2014 and 30% in 2015.
The 32-bit processor IP core Cortex-M series from ARM is the star performer in MCU market. If we group all ARM Cortex M microcontroller chipmakers as one group, that group's revenue is the most fast growing and takes the top slot in the microcontroller market. The ARM Cortex M0 is cutting hugely into 8-bit microcontroller market as a best low-cost option in various applications. However at the higher-end, where processing requirement is high performance, the proprietary processor-IP based 32-bit microcontrollers are still not giving much space to the ARM Cortex M4 based microcontroller chips. This is more so in applications such as automotive and industrial process control systems.
Though 8-bit microcontrollers are still very active, their share in the total microcontroller market is continuously falling. In 2014 EMITT solutions estimates the share of 8-bit microcontrollers in the total market to fall by 7-8%. Microchip and Atmel are the two top-leaders still maintaining some growth of shipment in the 8-bit microcontroller market.
In the growing 32-bit microcontroller market, fast-growing ST Microelectronics and Texas instruments have increased their share significantly. However, Freescale Semiconductor and Renesas still remain at the top of the 32-bit microcontroller market. ST Microelectronics is the number one vendor of ARM Cortex based microcontrollers in 2013 with close competition from several vendors.
With the growth in demand for devices with support of Internet of Things (IoT) feature, the Ethernet and other wireless interface such as ZigBee, Bluetooth featured integrated microcontroller chips are expected to be in demand in 2014 and 2015.
Another important trend fast picking up is growth in use of devices called programmable SOC, which pack some amount of FPGA fabric as well as ARM Cortex based processor in hard form. The traditional microcontroller vendors are also adding an element of programmable silicon in their microcontrollers and traditional FPGA vendors launched chips combining both FPGA and ARM Cortex processor. The greater market success is that of FPGA vendors rather than MCU vendors.
Region wise US, Japan, China and India are the fast growth markets for microcontrollers.
News Source: EMITT Solutions (www.emittsolutions.com/mcu-2013-market/)