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Diversified MCU battle wearable Market
Shenzhen Xinlicheng Technology Co.,Ltd. / 2016-10-11

According to Cisco research, there will be a global market of 25 billion US dollars for wearable applications in 2015, and the wearable market is expected to double in 2020. With the rapid growth of wearable market, MCU products with low power consumption and high performance have unlimited business opportunities, and more and more chip manufacturers have been actively engaged in the design of microcontroller solutions for wearable devices. MCU suppliers not only accelerate the introduction of corresponding MCU solutions, but also through the sponsorship of world-class sports events to raise awareness, the current market competition is very fierce.






Market consensus






For the current market sales and competition pattern of wearable equipment in MCU, most manufacturers have a relatively consistent view on many current situations and trends. Generally speaking, it is mainly reflected in four aspects. The first is the judgment of the current stage and future development prospects of the market. Suppliers generally believe that the wearable market is still in the early stage of complete competition, but is in rapid growth and development. In the future, tens of millions of wearable products are expected to enter the market.






The second is the view of AP and MCU. Wearable master chips are divided into application processor (AP) and MCU. Compared with most MCUs, AP can provide higher performance, but AP also consumes more power. At the same time, AP lacks on-chip non-volatile memory (NVM), so it must be connected to separate memory cards and modules through chip set to work properly, while MCU can only work normally. It integrates Flash and other typical on-chip NVM to support firmware. Therefore, MCU has great advantages over AP in terms of ease of use, integration, cost performance and power consumption. "MCU is a product that integrates CPU, Flash, RAM and peripheral functions. It is mainly used for small-scale systems, while AP is used for larger-scale systems." Silicon Labs, director of marketing in the Americas region Raman Sharma said. For example, the bracelet basically uses MCU, and watches choose MCU or AP according to their functional complexity.






Third, there is consensus on the choice of architecture. Sharma further said: "ARM Cortex-M processors will dominate the wearable mid-and low-end market, in which suppliers who can provide the most energy-efficient MCUs will surely be able to gain a great competitive advantage and the largest market share in the fast-growing market. In the high-end market, that is, high-end smart watches and smart glasses, ARM Cortex-A MCU and AP products will still dominate, and manufacturers focusing on smart phones and tablet PC AP chips will also get a share.






From the current situation of Cortex Core, M series products are paid more attention by MCU manufacturers because they consume less power than A series, and M series MCUs are easy to use, small package and highly integrated. For wearable products with low power consumption, Cortex-M0+, M3 and Cor with floating-point computing capability are the main products. The MCU made up of tex-M4 core is the best solution, providing excellent cost performance, sufficient performance and longer battery life.






The fourth is about the future trend of technology development. MCU manufacturers believe that due to the extremely limited volume space of wearable devices, high integration and complete system-level solutions become an inevitable trend, such as integrating peripheral devices such as wireless chips, GPS and sensors into a SoC.






"The Internet of Things (IoT) SoC is bound to be a necessary driving engine for rapid innovation and integration in the wearable market. For Silicon Labs, mixed signal integration will be the key to reducing the cost and complexity of Internet of Things applications." Sharma says. He expects SoC to integrate ARM Cortex-M class kernels, embedded Flash memory, analog/mixed signal peripherals, multi-protocol transceivers and sensor interfaces that support ZigBee, Bluetooth and sub-GHz connections, all integrated into small packages, low cost and low power single chip products.

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