MCU Sales Up in 2017 And 2018

Where are all the microcontrollers going?

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Microcontroller (MCU) sales are expected to grow over 9% this year while units increase over 16%. IoT and automotive are the major reason for the growth in general MCUs; however, the product group has been transitioning into several distinct segments that are being buried within the data of the broad MCU market. Over the past five years total MCU revenues have essentially remained flat; however, units have experienced a seesaw growth pattern increasing as much as 20% in 2014 after declining 6.3% in 2013. Challenges include increasing wafer demand while average selling prices decline.

This write-up takes a look at the distinct markets impacting MCU volatility through a series of graphs.

One MCU product that has had a major impact on ASPs and unit growth is smart cards. Over the past five years smart card units have experienced two years of over 40% growth in 2012 and 2014. On the other side of the coin, ASPs have declined steadily from $0.33 to only $0.18 expected this year.

Although general MCU units are not experiencing the dramatic saw tooth growth seen in the smart card market, units are growing at an impressive 5.6% CAGR over past five years. The 32-bit MCU market has grown an impressive 19.6% CAGR over the past five years. 32-bit MCUs are on track to surpass the 8-bit MCU category in unit sales.

The next question is where are all these General MCUs being utilized? In terms of applications, multipurpose is expected to grow over 20% this year to comprise over 50% of the total units. The three C’s, computer, communication and consumer have experienced two to three years of unit declines. As expected, automotive MCUs grew 13% in 2016 and are expected to grow another 26% in 2017.

Unit demand continues to grow as prices decline, helping to create more affordable applications. But will the affordable pricing continue? Dollar sales for MCUs have been relatively flat between 2010 and 2016. In 2017 and 2018, dollar revenues for MCU are on the rise. This is a welcome change as tighter capacity, especially on 200mm wafer lines and more expensive silicon wafers are challenging the ability of MCU manufacturers to drive down costs. ASPs are expected to flatten due to strong demand in automotive, industrial and IoT.