RISC-V is now a rising star in the industry, largely due to its open-source advantage, better power consumption performance promise, reliable security functions and lower political risk impact yet.
IP design around the chipset architecture, security and cutting-edge performance improvements has been the key to the semiconductor supply chain. Intel has been dominating the CPU architecture for the computing market with its x86 instruction set, while Arm revolutionized the smartphone market with its cutting-edge chipset architecture.
However, both the personal computer and smartphone markets are approaching saturation, while the “pure play” semiconductor IP market is stepping into a new era. William Li, research analyst at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, said, “The global semiconductor IP market is nearing an inflection point as the ratio of semiconductor content within a solution is accelerating, with a need for diverse and open approach across the compute, memory, security and other architectures. This demand is being mainly driven by the growth of advanced applications such as AI-enabled smart devices, 5G communications, high performance computing (HPC) and autonomous cars. The semiconductor content growth will drive product value growth in the IC design and IP licensing industry.”
According to Counterpoint Research’s latest report, ‘RISC-V Adoption Picks up Pace’, the global “pure play” semiconductor IP market size will grow at a healthy 11% CAGR to $8.6 billion per year by 2025. This market is dominated today by companies such as ARM, Synopsys, Cadence and CEVA. ARM has more than a third of the market thanks to its extremely high market share in mobile devices.
Having said that, the rise of RISC-V cannot be ignored. Introduced in 2010, RISC-V ISA has become more reliable and promising with a series of new tape-outs from members and incremental ecosystem support. Major IC design houses in the world, such as MediaTek, Qualcomm, NXP and SiFive, have launched several solutions. In fact, RISC-V is now a rising star in the industry, largely due to its open-source advantage, better power consumption performance promise, reliable security functions and lower political risk impact yet.
Li said, “As we estimate in our research, RISC-V processors will continue to see adoption across multiple categories. But we believe that in the near to mid term, IoT remains the key sector that could see greater than 25% adoption by 2025, mainly due to its outstanding flexibility, scalability, and power consumption optimization. Other electronics categories which could see RISC-V adoption include industrial electronics, automotive and HPC.”
The “semiconductor cold war” is heating up between key economies, which allows technologies such as RISC-V to gain importance. Against this backdrop, Research Director Dale Gai cautions, “The global economic uncertainty and trade tensions between the US, China and Taiwan will accelerate localization of the semiconductor supply chain. With over 70% of RISC-V premier members coming from China, their efforts for semiconductor expansion will reinforce China’s IP library and IC design capability, shape the supply chain, scale dynamics and extend RISC-V’s footprint across different product categories. This will call for a checkpoint in future on how the RISC-V ecosystem evolves, with success conditional to the diversity of members, respective contributions and geographical influence.”