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Embedded CPUs will outnumber PC equivalents six to one by 2015, IDC says

Apr 13, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

IDC projects that by 2015 “smart” embedded systems will use more than 12.5 billion processor cores — more than double the number that shipped in such devices last year, and six times as many as conventional PCs will be using. The report will be unveiled and discussed at the research firm's Smart Technology World conference, scheduled for April 19-20 in San Francisco.

IDC defines smart technology as involving wirelessly connected embedded systems that can run high-level operating systems (OSes) on programmable processor cores. These are said to include smart meters, smartphones, smart TVs, and smart grid devices.

According to the research firm, embedded devices are steadily taking over from PCs, rather like the tail that has started wagging the dog. IDC says more than 12.5 billion processor cores will ship in embedded systems by 2015, adding that this is six times as many as PCs will be using.

Additional findings in the study, touted as the first in a series, include:

  • 2015's 12.5 billion processor cores will represent more than $100 billion in revenue, and will nearly double again by 2020 to an estimated 24.6 billion
  • excluding mobile phones and PCs, unit shipments of IP-connected embedded systems will grow from approximately 1.4 billion in 2010 to over 3.3 billion in 2015
  • smartphone-like functionality, ease of use, and access will spread to formerly "dumbed down" embedded systems that form infrastructure for energy, industrial, automotive, and communications systems
  • mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity will force more forward-looking partnerships and co-opetition among vendors, technology providers, and investors

According to IDC, Mario Morales, program vice president, Semiconductor and EMS Research, will report on the preliminary smart technology study in his keynote presentation, "Smart Tech Market Forecast and 2020 Vision." 

In addition to the keynote by IDC's Morales, the Smart Technology World event will feature keynotes from Intel VP Ton Steenman, speaking on embedded technology. Other keynotes are expected from Qualcomm VP Reiner Klement, speaking on smart networks and connected devices, and Freescale SVP and general manager Lisa Su (pictured), addressing the rising tide of smart device users and how that will impact network infrastructure.

On the second day, Microsoft's Kevin Dallas, general manager of Windows Embedded, will talk about the role of the cloud in the coming smart device revolution. At the close of day two, ARM EVP Tom Lantzsch will get the final word with a talk on scalable processing for smart technology.

Other presentations include addresses from representatives of Amino (smart TVs), GM (automotive), Motorola Mobility (consumer expectations), Sprint (the connected world), Texas Instruments (tablets), SAP (new energy economy), and Ericsson (mobile broadband modules). Additional offerings are expected from Flexera (software), Samsung (green process technology), Aptina (imaging), and Flextronics (supply chain).

In addition, Paul Fulton, general manager of Cisco's Smart Homes Business Unit, will discuss smart energy, appliances, and home control devices. According to eWEEK, Cisco recently shuttered its consumer electronics business, including the Flip camera business.

Parts of Cisco's Linksys division, which makes Linux-based routers among other devices, will be integrated into other Cisco groups — especially the more video-oriented devices, says the story. However, it appears that most of these "low margin" products will be discontinued or sold off.


Smart Technology World will be held on April 19-20 at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. More information, including an agenda and registration, may be found at the Smart Technology World website.

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