According to findings from the 2013 edition of Semicast’s Embedded Processing Service, the market share for ARM-based embedded processors in the automotive sector is judged to have passed fifty percent in 2012.
Semicast defines embedded processors to include 32-bit microcontrollers and microprocessors, as well as ASICs, ASSPs and FPGAs with an integrated 32-bit core; 8/16-bit MCUs are excluded. Semicast has ranked ARM as the leading embedded processor architecture in the automotive sector since 2008, but in 2012 ARM revenues are judged to have exceeded those for all other 32-bit architectures combined, including Power Architecture, SuperH, TriCore and V850.
ARM’s presence is well established in most of the main systems in the automobile, including airbag, body electronics, braking, driver assistance, infotainment, instrument cluster, radio, navigation, embedded telematics and communications modules. It is this diverse system base which Semicast identifies as the key factor behind ARM moving into such a strong position in the automotive sector and also why higher revenue growth is forecast for ARM compared with other 32-bit architectures in the automotive sector in the medium term.
As in other market sectors, ARM’s leadership position in automotive comes from multiple design-wins across the spectrum of its silicon partners, for example in applications processors (Nvidia, TI); baseband processors (Qualcomm); Bluetooth/Wi-Fi controllers (Broadcom, CSR, Marvell) and M0/M0+/M3 MCUs (Freescale, NXP, Spansion, STMicroelectronics, Toshiba). Colin Barnden, Principal Analyst at Semicast Research and study author, commented “As a wide range of suppliers work together to drive forward ARM’s position in the automobile, so Semicast estimates that the average number of ARM-powered chips in every light vehicle produced worldwide will increase to eleven in 2018, compared with fewer than two in 2008”.
While Wall Street focuses on the details of the ARM versus Intel debate in applications processors for tablets and smartphones, ARM and its semiconductor partners have been busy building market share in other far less glamorous markets. As entertainment and wireless communications functions becoming increasingly prevalent in the automobile, so ARM’s market share in automotive looks certain to increase further.