SAN FRANCISCO—In a major shift for the semiconductor industry, communications applications are forecast to surpass computer applications as the leading end-use for ICs starting in 2014, according to market research firm IC Insights.
According to a soon-to-be-released report by IC insights, communications will be the No. 1 end-use applications for ICs in every major region of the world from 2014 through at least 2016, according to the firm.
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Computers have been the top application for ICs since they were first invented in the late 1950s. But PC market dynamics are changing, in part because of competition from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Market research firm IHS iSuppli recently projected that shipments of PCs will contract this year for the first time since 2001.
The communications IC market is expected to grow 9 percent in 2012 to reach $90 billion, according to IC insights. In 2013, the communications IC market is forecast to break the $100 billion revenue level for the first time, growing by 12 percent to reach $100.5 billion, IC Insights said.
In 2014, IC Insights expects the total communications IC market to grow to $114.4 billion, nearly 5 percent more than the projected total for the computer IC market, $109.4 billion, the firm said. From 2011 to 2016, the communications IC market is forecast to grow by a cumulative annual growth rate of 14 percent, reaching $159.5 billion by 2016, IC Insights said.
This really doesn't surprise me. With the Internet of Things coming on strong, I suspect that this trend will continue for quite a while.
However, as more things get connected, more things will have computing capability added in. As the computing capability in those devices grows, are the chips still considered communications? Or do they end up being classified as computers?
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.