Imagination fades in 2016 semiconductor IP market

July 04, 2017 //By Peter Clarke
Imagination fades in 2016 semiconductor IP market
ARM continued to dominate a semiconductor intellectual property (IP) market that grew strongly in 2016, but Imagination struggled as its restructuring during that year hurt sales, according to a report from IPnest. The strongest growth companies were Rambus and Ceva.

The 2016 semiconductor IP market was worth $3.39 billion, up 13.1 percent from the figure in 2015.

ARM, now part of Softbank Group and the long-time market leader, gained market share with 20.4 percent year-on-year growth, while third placed Imagination experienced a sales contraction of 21.5 percent. ARM's Mali architecture also overtook Imagination's PowerVR in the GPU and image signal processing category in 2016.

ARM's IP revenues in 2016, of $1.65 billion, gave it 48.4 percent market share. ARM is followed by Synopsys with about $450 million and 13.1 percent market share. Like Imagination fourth ranked Cadence also saw IP revenues decreased in 2016.

Global semiconductor design IP revenue by company for 2015, 2016 (millions of dollars). Source: IPnest.

IPnest has defined 11 categories of IP across three main groups, processor, physical and digital IP. The processor IP group is the largest, responsible for about 60 percent of semiconductor IP revenues. The group is split into microprocessor (CPU), digital signal processors (DSP) and graphic and image processors (GPU/ISP) categories.

ARM is the strong number one in the CPU category with great strength in mobile phones and increasingly outside including storage (95 percent market share), wearable (90 percent), networking (15 percent) and embedded intelligence (25 percent), according to IPnest. In this CPU category, Imagination Technologies (IMG) is ranked second with the MIPS IP family and Synopsys third with the ARC processor IP family.

However, Imagination's woes were also present in the CPU category in 2016. Imagination's MIPS IP revenues decrease by 10 percent while Synopsys grew ARC IP revenues by 13.5 percent, IPnest states.

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