Intel growing in embedded; ARM at “arms” length from COTS

March 22nd, 2013 by

By Andy The

While doing follow-up reading after my recent post “Are DSPs Dead?“,  I  came across an excellent corroborative article by Rick Merritt at EETimes discussing Intel’s ground gain in the embedded space.

FPGAs are replacing high-end DSPs, while x86 devices are replacing DSPs everywhere else.  This is very positive for Intel  as growth in the embedded market will deliver revenue to help offset the slowing of PC sales.

In the embedded mobile space ARM is still the dominant player, but outside the mobile space, their manufacturers’ use of non-standardized peripherals (USB, I/O, UART, PCIe, memory, etc) is holding ARM back from large growth

ARM manufacturers  – NVidia, Samsung, STMicro, etc. – use the peripherals to differentiate themselves from competitors.  These differentiated peripherals require customers to make large investments in board designs and manufacturing to create these custom boards.

Removing this differentiation would pave the way for COTS and ease of use, but it would also remove any sort of differentiation, turning the market into a commodities play with even smaller margins.

Until there is more consolidation and/or cooperation among the ARM device manufacturers,  I believe that using peripherals as differentiators will keep ARM at “arms” length away from COTS hardware, and away from a broader non-mobile customer base.



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