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Application processor market growing fast

Dec 9, 2008 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 3 views

The worldwide market for application processors will grow to nearly $2 billion by 2012, fueled by strong demand for smartphones and other mobile devices, predicts The Linley Group.

The Linley Group expects $1.9 billion worth of application processors to ship annually by 2012, nearly twice current levels. This is attributed to rapid expansion of the smartphone market, which has been growing at 50 percent per year for several years and is expected to “continue growing sharply through 2012.”

The market research firm defines application processors as “those used to run an operating system and application software in a mobile device.” They’re used in smartphones, personal media players (PMPs), personal navigation devices (PNDs), and mobile Internet devices (MIDs), automotive in-dash systems, digital photo frames, IP security cameras, and other rapidly growing markets.

Beyond the smartphone market, which application processors dominate, The Linley Group sees a battle brewing between application processors and low-power, PC-style (“x86”) processors in the emerging market for mobile Internet devices (MIDs). Application processors (from vendors such as TI and Qualcomm) have trouble satisfying MIDs’ software requirements, while PC-style processors (e.g. Intel’s Atom processor) are struggling to meet MIDs’ extreme low-power needs, the Group suggests.

“Mobile devices span a wide range of price points and feature sets, making it impossible for any single processor, or even a single vendor’s products, to satisfy all applications,” says Linley Gwennap, the group’s principal analyst. “As one of the few high growth sectors we are seeing over the next five years, the mobile processor market has attracted many vendors vying to maintain or grow their market positions.”

Further details are available in The Linley Group’s recently-released report, entitled “A Guide to Mobile Processors.” It’s priced at $2,995 for a single-user license.

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