The market for consumer devices like cellphones, smartphones, notebook PCs, netbooks, tablets, digital still cameras, MP3 players, personal navigation devices, e-readers, handheld game consoles, digital camcorders, and portable media players has grown rapidly in the last few years. As these devices get slimmer with each new generation, they are seeking highly integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions that offer more functionalities in a compact miniature package with low power consumption.
Because SoC chips today are capable of integrating graphics processing unit (GPU) with microprocessors, logic, memory and other associated functionalities on a single semiconductor chip, the demand for these devices has dramatically increased. As a result, with fast growth in consumer devices, the consumption of SoC chips has also risen simultaneously in recent years. A new report by market research firm NPD In-Stat predicts that the growth in mobile devices will drive the mobile SoC market to over 3.1 billion devices in 2015. By comparison, the total worldwide market for SoC devices in 2010 was 2 billion
In a statement, research director Jim McGregor said, “The shift toward graphical user interfaces and media-rich content in entertainment and computing has pushed multimedia acceleration, including graphics, video, and audio, in electronic devices from a simple co–processing function to the forefront of semiconductor and system design.”
He added, “This change has been driven by richer content, higher accessibility to content over the Internet, industry standards, new technologies, and increased communication bandwidth. These advancements, however, also come with the challenges of increased complexity, increased performance requirements, and constraints in power, size, and cost.”
Other key findings of NPD In-Stat report indicate that mobile segment, comprising smartphones, tablets, and notebooks PCs, will grow at a CAGR of 25.7 percent as compared to 8.7 percent for the overall mobile market and only 40 percent of the mobile SoC market will use at least one dedicated GPUs in 2011.
On the GPU front, Intel and Imagination were leaders because of their dominance in PCs and smartphones, respectively. Together, the two are projected to capture about 61.3 percent of the total available GPU market in 2011. However, the report cautions that going forward the line between PC and mobile consumer GPUs will narrow in the future, increasing the competition between GPU technologies.
Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell