| ANAHEIM, Calif. The intellectual property (IP) market as it refers to predefined circuit blocks is far from dead and is becoming more diverse through the rise of vendors of analog and mixed-signal IP, according to Christian Heidarson, an analyst with Gartner Inc., speaking at a pre-DAC conference. |
For many observers the recent success of processor core licensor ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) during difficult times had eclipsed many of the other IP vendors, giving rise to the argument that IP blocks did not constitute a distinct market but were really part of the larger and more general patent and technology licensing business. This perception had been compounded by ARM's acquisition at the end of 2004 of Artisan Components Inc., one of two successful vendors of physical intellectual property.
However, Heidarson pointed out that although ARM had come to dominate the IP sector with 25 percent market share in 2004, overall the market grew 21 percent on an annual basis in 2004 to a size of about $1.3 billion.
ARM, with IP sales of $312.2 million in 2004, was more than twice the size of its next-nearest rival, Rambus Inc., which held 11 percent of the 2004 market; and three times the size of third-ranked TTPcom, which Heidarson said holds 8 percent of the market with about $104.1 million of IP revenue in 2004. Synopsys, with its DesignWare library, held fourth place or about 6 percent of the market and MIPS Technologies Inc., once a close rival to ARM lay in fifth place in 2004 with 4 percent of the market.
Despite the fact that intellectual property licensing overall grew at an annual rate behind the growth of the semiconductor chip market in 2004, the IP market was continuing to enjoy strong growth and there were signs that it would continue to do so in the years to come, Heidarson said. One trend not shown in the raw data of the top-ten IP players but seen by Gartner during 2004, was explosive growth in analog and mixed-signal IP, albeit from a low base, Heidarson said.
"There has always been a latent demand for analog and mixed-signal IP and it is stronger now than ever," he told a large DAC audience. Heidarson said that the lack of a tool to perform analog synthesis meant that a great deal of value was created by analog engineers who hand-crafted analog circuits and delivered them as hard macros. "The IP acts a bill-board but the real revenue comes from design services. In 2004 we saw analog and mixed-signal IP really take-off," Heidarson said.
The overall semiconductor IP market grew to $1,272 million in 2004, up 21 percent on 2003, according to Gartner, but the analog and mixed-signal portion of the semiconductor IP market grew 39 percent to reach $97.4 million, Heidarson said. Heidarson said some changing design methodologies were making analog and mixed-signal IP reuse more viable.
Heidarson listed the leading analog and mixed-signal IP player as Chipidea Microelectronica SA (Lisbon, Portugal) with $16.6 million and 17 percent of the analog and mixed-signal IP market. Rambus was in second place, as it was in the overall semiconductor IP market. Other companies mentioned by Heidarson in this context included Silicon Image Inc., QualCore Logic Inc., Nordic Semiconductor ASA and Snowbush Microelectronics.