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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.

Next: Market segments


CPUs, DSPs, image signal processors and GPUs are responsible for 42.2, 4.9 and 9.3 percent of the market respectively, or 56.4 percent in aggregate. The next group after processor is the Physical IP, including wired interface IP, SRAM memory compiler, other memory compilers, physical libraries, analog and mixed-signal and wireless interface IP. In the wired interface category, Synopsys is the clear leader with about 45 percent market share, as well as in the physical IP group with 35 percent market share.

For more information contact: eric.esteve@ip-nest.com

Related links and articles:

Imagination fades in 2016 semiconductor IP market

Report: Control of ARM’s China business passes to JV

ARM agrees to be bought by Japan’s Softbank

Cadence breaks into top four in semi IP core ranking


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