The DSP market has thrived on demand from communications and is becoming a bigger factor in embedded control applications as well.
Last year worldwide shipments of programmable DSP chips came in at just over $6.1 billion, according to World Semiconductor Trade Statistics Inc., San Jose. That represented a 40% jump from $4.4 billion in 1999.
But growth in DSP shipments will slow significantly this year before rebounding in 2002 and beyond, said Will Strauss, an analyst at Forward Concepts Co., Tempe, Ariz.
TI, Motorola, Lucent Microelectronics (now Agere), and Analog Devices together accounted for some 90% of the DSP market in 2000. But collectively, the big four lost about five market share points to niche players, Strauss said.
Texas Instruments, with 44% of the DSP market last year, continued to dominate, according to Strauss. The company claimed 55% of the DSP unit shipments in 2000 to the cellular handset market, the largest DSP consumer, Strauss said.
But that may be why TI lost a few market share points, he said. TI was more vulnerable than others to the sudden slowdown in cell phone sales late in the year.
Meanwhile, Motorola saw DSP shipments grow 61% in 2000-interestingly, in cell phones. But Motorola ships about 50% of its DSPs internally to its own cellular handset division. Merchant market DSP shipments for both wired and wireless infrastructure were up significantly, too, Strauss said.
"Motorola's DSPs are doing well in the professional audio market, although it's less than 10% of their DSP revenue," Strauss said. Overall, Motorola held 13.2% of the DSP market in 2000, up from 11.5% in 1999, according to Strauss.
"This year we're focusing on expansion of networking systems using both StarCore and PowerPC architectures," said Michael Ponzo, director of marketing at the DSP division of Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector.
StarCore, an architecture that Motorola developed in a joint venture with Lu cent, will be expanded into baseband processors, Ponzo said.
Analog Devices had the biggest increase in DSP market share in 2000, up 65%, to 10.2%, according to Strauss. The company was strong in both wired and wireless communications. Analog Devices is the industry leader in DSP chip sales to the merchant ADSL market and in voice and modem remote-access server modem banks based on DSP, Strauss said.
Lucent Microelectronics, the 1999 leader in DSP shipments for cellular infrastructure applications, is likely to have maintained its No. 1 ranking in that area in 2000, Strauss said.
Lucent's Agere spinoff now has a better change of finding a bigger market for its chips, he said, because most major telecommunications companies had considered Lucent a direct competitor. Agere will emphasize its version of the new StarCore IP in ASIC implementations for high-volume customers and for some catalog products, Strauss said.
Because its current fate is tied so much to cell phones, the DSP market will p robably grow more slowly this year.
However some markets, such as digital cameras and palmtops, are holding up quite well, Strauss said.
Surprisingly, average selling prices keeping coming down as DSP functionality goes up. The typical DSP that sold for $12 in 1995 is going for around $6 today, he said.