What the market statistics may reflect is the impact on ARM and others of a combination of factors ranging from vertical integration at the top end of the market to the impact of RISC-V at the bottom end.
Companies ranked by semiconductor design IP revenue in 2018 (millions of dollars). Source: IPnest (April 2019).
In market leader ARM's case this was the second year running that it had lost market share (see ARM loses IP market share to fast-growing followers). The winners in the market were EDA companies Synopsys and Cadence and top-ten newcomer Achronix.
The IP market was worth $3,602 million in 2018, up by 6 percent from 2017 and representing slower growth than in previous years. In 2017 the global IP market grew by 11.7 percent.
"We start to see in 2018 a shift from general purpose IP – such as CPU, DSP, foundation IP – to more application-specific IP," said Eric Esteve, the principal at IPnest, in email correspondence. "This is especially true for CPU or DSP – Synopsys and Cadence versus ARM and Andes." It is also notable that processor and physical IP revenues have declined as a proportion of the total while other digital IP and interconnect IP has grown.
In more detail this may reflect that ARM, Imagination and MIPS are getting squeezed. At the top end licensees are moving to architectural licenses or even home-rolling their processors to minimize license fees while at the bottom end RISC-V open-source processor licensing is gaining traction. At the same time in the middle ground machine-learning and other specialized architectures available from other sources are gaining in popularity.
ARM's global IP market share has now dropped from about 50 percent to 44 percent although it is expected to retain its lead for some time. ARM became part of Japan's SoftBank Group in 2016.
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