Monday, November 12, 2012

Qualcomm leads in global DSP silicon shipments

USA: When people speak of "DSP chips", they are usually referring to discrete devices that are catalog or "off-the-shelf" units; although at the high end they tend to be customized for high-volume customers. And, they correctly associate Texas Instruments as the DSP chip market leader.

However, those DSP chips from TI, Freescale, ADI, NEC and others constitute only about 10 percent of the "DSP silicon" market in revenue terms.

The largest market for "DSP silicon" is as embedded solutions, generally thought of as System on Chip (SoC) products.  Of that SoC DSP market, cellphones constitute the largest segment, with baseband modem chips being the most significant. All baseband chips consist of one or more DSP cores. Qualcomm, the clear baseband market leader, has long employed two DSP cores in each of its MSM modem chips, and of late is shipping three or more of its latest Hexagon DSP cores in its Snapdragon S4 chips.

In calendar year 2011, Qualcomm shipped a reported 521 million MSM chip shipments and we estimate that an average of 2.3 of its DSP cores in each unit resulted in 1.2 billion DSPs shipped in silicon.

This (calendar) year, we estimate that the company will ship an average of 2.4 DSP cores with each (more complex) MSM chip. We estimate that Qualcomm will ship about 610 million MSM chips in 2012, for a total of 1.5 billion DSPs shipped in silicon for the full year. Clearly, Qualcomm leads the global unit market for DSP silicon shipments.

Will Strauss, president and principal analyst, Forward Concepts.

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