BARCELONA -- The iPad was the undisputed king of the consumer high-end tablet market until last year, but new Android-based devices such as the Sony Xperia Z2 and Samsung's Galaxy Tab S are giving Apple a run for its money.
Many other tablet OEMs are looking to introduce high-performance 64-bit tablets. Actions Semiconductor will start providing its first systems on chips (SoC) in late 2014, making it easier for the Chinese company to develop high-end devices.
Actions announced that it has signed a license agreement for the 64-bit ARM Cortex A50 processor family, making it one of China's leading technology design companies delivering an ARM-based 64-bit chip for tablet devices.
"Premium smartphones and tablets have become primary computing devices and that is driving strong demand for 64-bit solutions," Allen Wu, president of ARM Greater China, said in a press release. "Actions Semiconductor is a valued partner and we believe the combination of its expertise in low power SoC development with the ARM Cortex-A50 processor family and ARM POP IP is an exciting way of fulfilling this requirement."
According to the research firm IDC, global high-end tablet market shares for Samsung, Sony, and other vendors are already growing at the expense of Apple. Having access to 64-bit ARM Cortex A50 processors from Actions Semiconductor will enable more manufacturers to develop competing solutions in this lucrative segment of the tablet market.
"We believe this investment in 64-bit architecture reinforces our position as one of the leading design houses in China providing leading-edge, high performance products at attractive price points," Actions CEO Dr. Zhenyu Zhou said in the release. "With the mobile industry rapidly migrating from 32-bit to 64-bit operating systems, we expect our next generation SoCs utilizing this IP will allow us to compete more effectively in both the branded and whitebox segments of the tablet and OTT set top box markets."
IDC is forecasting a slowdown in the overall tablet market, but that will mostly affect the low-end tablets in the seven-inch and eight-inch segments, which face strong competition from large-screen smartphones. Tablets with 10-inch screens and larger will continue to have a strong demand, especially in the Asia Pacific market.
"Worldwide growth will continue, but emerging markets such as Asia Pacific will account for a larger percentage of the worldwide market going forward, and vendors playing in this market must prepare for this eventuality," Tom Mainelli, program vice president for devices and displays at IDC, said in a March press release. "Second, the rise of phablets – smartphones with 5.5-inch and larger screens – are causing many people to second-guess tablet purchases as the larger screens on these phones are often adequate for tasks once reserved for tablets."
— Pablo Valerio is a freelance blogger who writes about mobile and telecom issues for EE Times. He lives and works in Barcelona.