Overall the semiconductor IP market in 2019 was worth about $3.94 billion, up 5.2 percent from a 2018 value of $3.74 billion, a figure that IPnest had upgraded since last year. When it is considered that the IC market fell by about 15 percent in 2019 and that IP royalties are usually tied to chip selling prices this is good result for IP vendors, suggesting increased penetration of the market.
In 2018 the IP market was up by about 10 percent from 2017.
"Synopsys' growth was steady in a declining semiconductor market. After we take out memory and just consider logic, analog and SoC, the market declined about 6 percent. So my conclusion is that overall the IP business is really healthy," Esteve told eeNews Europe in a telephone interview. Esteve also pointed out that in terms of up-front licensing for IP cores Synopsys beat ARM into second place.
Market share for semiconductor IP licensing in 2019 but excluding royalties. Source: IPnest.
Cadence managed to lift its total IP revenues year-on-year by 22.9 percent, albeit from a lower base. Esteve said that is partly because the company has four or five IP product lines and partly because of success for its Tensilica processor/DSP line. It also acquired NuSemi Inc at the end of 2017 and at the end of 2018 was able to demonstrate a high-speed SerDes interface running at 112Gbps in 7nm silicon.
Esteve said interface IP is growing in significance in the market while general-purpose processor IP is becoming more of commodity.
"For most of the last decade IP business growth was mostly based on smartphone business and the likes of ARM, Imagination and Ceva did very well. However, as is well known the smartphone sector has more recently put downward pressure of component suppliers and reduced margins to wafer thin amounts. This in turn is pushing back on established IP suppliers.
"For the next few years the source for growth [in IP revenues] will be high-performance computing and data centers, wired and wireless networking. IoT will impact the market as well but not as much," said Esteve.
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