By Jean Anne Booth, CMO, Luminary MicroEmbedded.com -- (04/01/08, 12:23:00 PM EDT)
The Cortex-M3 processor core from ARM will likely trigger a consolidation in the microcontroller (MCU) market that usually occurs in large markets as they mature. The ARM architecture already dominates in embedded processors, ASICs, and ASSPs, so it's well positioned to become dominant in the neighboring MCU market. In fact, with some recent introductions, the MCU consolidation process has already started. The wise designer takes advantage of the inevitable by using a Cortex-M3-based MCU.
Many large markets go through a consolidation process as they mature, when the number of vendors and product offerings start shrinking as the benefits of mass production and economies of scale overrun the desire for infinite varieties of the fundamental product. This has happened in automobiles, computers, and office supplies. It's a natural evolution of broad markets.
In some cases, a few large vendors may swamp the market. For example, in the US, Home Depot and Lowes took over the building supplies market, squeezing out the hundreds of small hardware stores who couldn't keep up with the attractive prices of the "big box" stores.
In PCs, it was stature rather than price that consolidated the industry. When a band of renegades at IBM assembled a "personal" computer, the industry decided that such small computers would be a force to reckon with. Realizing the layout of the IBM PC was fairly open for replication, dozens of other companies began making similar products, riding on the PC's meager operating system (OS) and common hardware components. Adding VisiCalc and a word processor put the PC on a one-way road to success.
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