Qualcomm leads mobile GPU market

New study from Jon Peddie Research tallies market share, estimates future production. Qualcomm-SOC-mobile-for-gfxs-article

A new market study from Jon Peddie Research shows Qualcomm as the leader in the fast-growing market for portable Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). The total personal and portable GPU market opportunity is projected to be 2.44 billion units by 2018.

The new report includes personal mobile devices graphics chip shipments for the first half of 2013. Personal mobile devices include smartphones, tablets and handheld game consoles. According to JPR, the market for portable devices (mobile devices that we can carry, including notebooks) continues to soar in spite of economic difficulties and general uncertainty. Although personal devices are not necessarily replacing the PC, they are outselling the PC. All of these devices have a graphics processor (GPU) integrated in the device’s system on a chip (SoC) application processor.

JPR’s new market study, Mobile Devices and the GPUs Inside, reports Qualcomm as the market leader with more than 32% of the total market for personal mobile devices, as shown below.

Qualcomm is the current market leader for embedded GPU processing in System on a Chip (SoC) IP; Vivante and ARM are growing rapidly. (Source: Jon Peddie Research)
Qualcomm is the current market leader for embedded GPU processing in System on a Chip (SoC) IP; Vivante and ARM are growing rapidly. (Source: Jon Peddie Research)

Other SoC suppliers that buy GPU IP are Allwiner, Freescale, Huawei, MediaTek, Rockchip, Wonder Media/VIA and others. These companies have participated in the feature phone market, and some of them have recently entered the smartphone, tablet, and handheld game machine segment.

One area fueling the growth of portable SoCs is the exploding tablet market in China, which is contributing significantly to the astounding growth ARM and Vivante are experiencing. As a result of this tablet surge in China, dramatic changes are expected during the next 12 months. Apple introduced a 7-inch tablet, Microsoft brought out its Surface tablet, and Texas Instruments will continue to supply Amazon (even though TI has pulled back from the smartphone market as Nokia loses market share).

The market for SoCs with GPUs grew 81% from the first half of 2012, with market shifts occurring as shown in the table below.

Market share changes portable device CPUs JPR

As a result of the turbulence in the market, JPR expects market shares to shift dramatically through 2013.

Over four dozen semiconductor suppliers (including Broadcom, Apple, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Nvidia, ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, Qualcomm, and Samsung) produce application processors. All of those companies fall into one of two categories: vertically integrated, or IP buyers. AMD, Intel, Nvidia, and Qualcomm are the vertically integrated companies with their own GPU and CPU designs; all of the other companies buy GPU IP from one of four IP suppliers (ARM, DMP, Imagination Technologies, or Vivante). The exception to this tidy categorization is Samsung, which has an internal GPU design as well as purchasing IP from ARM and Imagination Technologies. Broadcom is also an exception; it has an internal design GPU as well as buying IP from ARM.

The leading high-volume suppliers of application processors (i.e., SoCs) are Apple, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, and Samsung. ARM supplies GPU IP for some of Samsung’s mobile phones, while Imagination Technologies’ GPU IP is used in Apple, Texas Instruments, and some of Samsung’s mobile phones and tablets.

The upcoming SoC suppliers with impressive design wins to their credit are Intel (proprietary GPU) and Nvidia (proprietary GPU). Qualcomm, however, is the giant in the industry.

JPR’s new Mobile Devices and the GPUs Inside market study has 166 pages with 98 tables and figures, reports on portable and personal devices and provides a market forecast to 2018. It sells for $5,000 and comes in electronic form (printed versions are also available). A complete table of contents can be seen at http://jonpeddie.com/publications/mobile-devices-and-the-gpus-inside.