Imagination, Ceva ride high
Like the CPU core market, the DSP and graphics core markets are dominated by single vendors.
Imagination Technologies took 82 percent of the graphics core market and increased its royalty revenue by 69 percent in 2011. Ceva took 90 percent of the DSP core market and expanded its DSP royalties by 59 percent.
The report counted Tensilica and Synopsys’ ARC cores as CPU blocks, although many are used as DSPs. However, even if both were counted as DSPs, Ceva would still dominate the sector, said Gardner. Ceva’s closest competitor is the ZSP core from Verisilicon that took nine percent of the market in 2011, according to the report.
Overall shipments of merchant DSP cores grew 44 percent in 2011 to see use in 1.16 billion chips in 2011, thanks mainly to their adoption as cellular baseband processors. To fuel growth, Ceva must “extend their reach and they are doing that with new products
that address a broader range of markets--that’s their challenge,” said Gardner.
Graphics cores represent the smallest but fastest growing of the processor core markets. Shipments exceeded 300 million units in 2011, up from less than 90 million in 2008, the report said.
ARM took last place in this sector with a four percent share while Vivante was second and DMP third at eight and six percent, respectively.
“I’m still bullish on ARM’s Mali cores due to the company’s reach,” said Gardner. “They should do well, and their Samsung win
was important,” he added.
He predicted Imagination will continue to lead the sector, particularly if it retains its design wins with Apple. Long term, however, ARM could exert a threat if it can derive advantages from SoCs that use both its CPU and graphics cores, he added.