Wednesday, March 21, 2012

ASIC design starts: New growth ahead

PHOENIX, USA: The ASIC design start landscape has changed since 2006 to accommodate increasing design costs, rising design complexity and lengthening design cycle times, especially in the system-on-a-chip (SoC) market. These changes are having an impact on the ASIC Design Start market as the broader semiconductor market has mostly recovered from the financial meltdown that occurred in the 3rd quarter of 2008 and into the first part of 2009.

Semico Research Corp has looked at these impacts from the point of view of the ASIC Design Start market and encapsulated these changes and trends in a new report titled; ASIC Design Starts: New Growth Ahead, SC102-12, February 2012.

This report looks at changes and trends in 71 end applications summarized in the Computer, Consumer, Communications, Transportation and Industrial market categories. The report tracks the design starts and unit shipments of nine different types of ASIC products; Analog, Mixed Signal, Gate Array, Advanced Performance Multicore SoCs, Value Multicore SoCs, Basic SoCs, PLDs, FPGAs and Structured ASICs used in the profiled applications.

Forecasts for ASIC design starts and ASIC unit shipments from 2012 through 2016, using 2011 as the base year are given. The report also looks at design complexity, gate count by product type, starts by process geometry, regional design starts with forecasts for design starts in each area.

Some of the data discussed in 91 pages with 60 tables and 66 graphs are:
* Total ASIC design starts increased 11.1 percent in 2011 on top of a 9.8 percent growth in 2010. Semico is forecasting continued growth with an increase of 10.2 percent in 2012.
* Total ASIC design starts are forecast to show a CAGR of 6.6 percent from 2012-2016.
* The number of 'first time' designs in the SoC market increased 6.9 percent in 2011, while derivative SoC designs increased 12 percent.
* The fastest growing category of silicon solution is the basic SoC at a CAGR of 24.1 percent driven in part by new applications in smart grid and the Internet of Things.
* The largest end market for ASIC design starts is the communications market with 40.9 percent of the total.
* The fastest growing market category is the transportation segment with a CAGR of 9 percent.
* The industrial category also saw increased growth with the rise of smart grid applications with a 9 percent CAGR through the forecast period.

Perhaps, the biggest change in the ASIC design landscape is the evolution of the SoC market from two traditional types of SoCs to now include three SoC types: Performance SoCs become Advanced Performance Multicore SoCs. Value SoCs become Value Multicore SoCs and a new category of SoC, the Basic SoC is created. These changes reflect the new ways silicon designers are crafting their silicon solutions to meet changing market requirements and increasing design costs. The new definitions reflect the trends towards using multiple CPU cores in the end silicon to increase performance and the extensive use of on-chip Interconnects to tie these CPU cores together.

The new Basic SoC category is a reflection of the increasing use of CPU cores from 3rd Party Intellectual Property (SIP) vendors on Micro Controllers that had previously used proprietary CPUs to increase performance and reduce design cycle times.

Although Smart Grid and Internet of Things applications will drive large numbers of design starts and very high unit shipments, the low price points required for these applications will not drive industry revenues significantly. However, the increased design activity revolving around these two new applications, along with the growth in Communications applications will provide a much needed element of stability to the design start landscape over the forecast period.

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