MCU share race
Going forward, the new Renesas will be a publically traded company in Japan. When combined, the company had $10.212 billion in sales in 2009, making it the world's third largest chip maker, next to Intel Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
In 2009, Renesas was the largest MCU player with 18 percent share, followed by NEC Electronics with 12 percent, according to Gartner Inc. This in turn gives the combined entity a staggering 30 percent share.
In the MCU market last year, Freescale was third with 10 percent share, followed in order by Samsung (8 percent), Microchip (6 percent), TI (6 percent), Infineon (6 percent), ST (6 percent), Fujitsu (5 percent) and NXP (4 percent), according to the rankings from Gartner Inc.
Needless to say, the overall IC market, including MCUs, was horrible in 2009 due to the recession. Now, the MCU market is back on track and growing, thanks to some new and emerging markets, such as medical, smart grids and others, said Atmel’s Rice.
In 2010, the microcontroller market is expected to reach $12.3 billion, up 14 percent from 2009, according to Databeans Inc. The MCU market fell 21 percent in 2009, according to the firm.
At present, MCU demand is strong ''across the board,’’ said Microchip’s Sanghi. ''All lead times (for MCUs) are long.’’ For example, Microchip’s lead times have extended from 4-6 weeks to 8-12 weeks, said Doug Freedman, an analyst with Broadpoint.AmTech.
Over time, Freedman expects a sea of change in the MCU landscape. ''In the MCU space, I do believe there is more share shift than other markets as the landscape has changed. (There is) the new Renesas. We also have a refocused Freescale, and newcomers like Cypress,’’ Freedman said.
The question is whether the new Renesas will gain or lose share going forward. In MCUs, Renesas currently sells 16 MCU lines, including the M16C (16-bit), H8S (16-bit), R32C (32-bit), H8SX (32-bit) and the SuperH, a 32-bit RISC line. NEC Electronics sells the V850 and other MPU line. The V850 is a 32-bit line.
Over time, Renesas said it will ''rationalize’’ its MCU lines. But for now, ''nothing is going to be suddenly stopped,’’ said Renesas’ Mahoney. ''You can’t do this to MCU customers.’’
While Renesas will continue to push those products, it is throwing its weight behind its new architecture, the RX. Unlike many of its rivals, Renesas did not take the ARM route for the RX. The new architecture is a proprietary 32-bit, CISC-based MCU line.
It’s a big gamble. Renesas could see better margins with the RX--provided the product line takes off. Many companies have licensed ARM’s architecture and are competing with similar products. “I am not saying that ARM is good or bad, but we decided not to go that route,’’ said Tyagi. ''The RX supports most applications.’’