The popular perception that the microcontroller unit (MCU) that offers the fastest clock speed at the most advanced process node is the future of the Southeast Asian microcontroller market has been deflated by many participants in the electronics industry. The presence of newer applications in markets such as medical electronics, automotive, and consumer electronics, which require MCUs that offer low-cost solutions and deliver on performance, functionality, and connectivity, have created a huge market for 8-bit MCUs.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (semiconductors.frost.com), Southeast Asian Microcontrollers Market, finds that market earned revenues of over $1,234.8 million in 2008 and estimates this to reach $3,673.8 million in 2014.
"The 8-bit MCUs are the mainstay and vital to the processor ecosystem; they initiate the use of digital electronics in a wide array of applications," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Akkaraju Venkata Sridevi. "For many new system designs and applications, 8-bit MCUs are still considered an ideal choice."
While the 8-bit MCUs have found ready acceptance in many emerging markets and economies, the 16-bit and 32-bit MCUs will be driven by automotive, high-end consumer products, and industrial controls. The rising need for high performance as well as the increasing implementation of stringent emission and safety regulations in automobile industries across the world has greatly benefited the higher-power microcontrollers segments.
Countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam are experiencing high spending on consumer electronics and household appliances. This is greatly increasing demand for 16-bit microcontrollers in Southeast Asia, with these two countries leading the pack in terms of volume growth, followed by Malaysia and Thailand.
"Singapore is a much advanced market compared to other countries in this region," notes Sridevi. "In countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, the growth in this sector mainly depends on consumer awareness, manufacturers' initiative, and government regulations."
Designers in Southeast Asia are not yet ready to migrate to 32-bit counterparts for applications such as energy meter and medical test equipment, since 16-bit MCUs are ideal for these applications. However, some customers desire system-level solutions along with performance, causing semiconductor companies to develop system on chip (SoC) solutions.
"32-bit architecture supports these kinds of dense designs at lower cost and faster time to market," observes Sridevi. "The introduction of 32-bit microcontrollers at the price of 8-bit and the ease of software use is likely to drive the migration from 8-bit and 16-bit to 32-bit microcontrollers by 2012."
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Southeast Asian Microcontrollers Market / P11C