ARM loses IP market share to fast-growing followers

May 08, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
ARM, the undisputed leader in intellectual property core licensing, lost market share in 2017, according to market research from IPnest.

Nonetheless with nearly 50 percent of the market ARM, is expected to continue as the dominant player for some time to come.

Overall the design IP market achieved year-on-year growth of 11.7 percent taking the market value to $3.59 billion, IPnest estimates. ARM, which became part of Japan's SoftBank Group in 2016, had IP revenues of $1.66 billion, representing 46.2 percent market share, down from 47.8 percent market share in 2016, according to updated figures from IPnest.

Worldwide semiconductor design IP revenue by company 2016 and 2017 (millions of dollars). Source: IPnest.

ARM CPU IP license revenue has declined by 6.8 percent year over year, although this was more than compensated for by royalty revenue growing by 17.8 percent.

Eric Esteve, of IPnest, said there could be multiple reasons for this. One is that accounting policy changed after the acquisition by SoftBank, which may have produced a one-time artefact in the accounts. The second possibility is that RISC-V processor cores are becoming a credible alternative to ARM processor cores.

Although that would appear to be a likely long-term trend it is probably too early to show in IP license revenues. Esteve points out that 2018 data should prove interesting on this front.

Imagination Technologies, which after it lost Apple as a long-term customer was forced to put itself up for sale, has also lost market share slipping to a fourth ranked position with just 4.7 percent of the market in 2017. IPnest expects Imagination's royalty revenue to collapse when Apple move to an internally-developed GPU solution.

Meanwhile Synopys, Cadence and Ceva have continued to outperform the market with revenue growths of 18.0, 21.0 and 20.4 percent respectively. They have been joined by a new third-ranked Broadcom, representing the combination of IP sales from Avago, LSI Logic and Broadcom.

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