LONDON – Processor IP licensor ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) tops a ranking of semiconductor IP licensors by revenue for 2012 according to market research firm Gartner Inc., but grew licensing revenues more slowly that second-ranked Synopsys and third-placed Imagination. ARM has been the undisputed leader in the semiconductor intellectual property market for many years and still managed to grow its market share from 38 percent in 2011 to 40 percent in 2012.
A noticeable absence from the 2012 ranking (see table below) is Cadence Design Systems Inc. (San Jose, Calif.). Cadence was number 16 in the rankings with $13.7 million of semiconductor IP sales in 2012, according to Gartner analyst Jim Tully. In the last few months Cadence has made moves to acquire Cosmic Circuits Pvt. Ltd. (Bangalore, India), a provider of analog circuit IP and Tensilica Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.), a licensor of configurable dataplane processors for embedded applications. The purchase price for Cosmic was not disclosed while for Tensilica the price net of cash acquired is about $350 million.
Tensilica had about $45 million of revenue in 2012. As Imagination has acquired MIPS Technologies Inc. – consolidating those two companies into one – that would put Cadence in fourth place, just above Ceva.
The top four companies in the chart were responsible for 66 percent of semiconductor IP revenue in 2012.
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Worldwide semiconductor design IP revenue by company, 2011 and 2012 (millions of dollars). Source: Gartner, March 2013.
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.