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MCU Memory: A Flashy Trend?

Even the microcontroller (MCU) market is expanding the use of Flash memory.  The ubiquitous MCU populates end-market products from automobiles to Smart Cards.  The broad applications base and wide range of embedded memory and technology offerings contribute to its steady unit and revenue growth.  Although there is severe pricing pressure on average selling prices, revenue grew 11 percent in 2007 and unit shipments increased by 19 percent.

IC Cards, multipurpose (industrial control and other), automotive and consumer accounted for 90 percent of the units and generated 87 percent of the revenue.  Automotive was the revenue leader with 36 percent and 16 percent of the units.  Clearly, IC cards are quite price sensitive as they accounted for 37 percent of the units and just 14 percent of the revenue.

The 16-bit and 32-bit+ MCU markets have grown large enough that these markets are the driving force for total MCU growth.  These are the key products in high-end consumer products, automotive and industrial control.  Consequently, developments in these markets have a major impact on the MCU market.

This Semico study focuses on the memory technology trends and the memory density for MCUs.  However, the demand from end-use markets does affect the long-term memory trends.  More cost- sensitive applications use smaller amounts of memory, while applications with high-performance requirements implement more memory.  The memories used for the main program in an MCU include: OTP (One Time Programmable, Flash, MROM (Mask ROM) and other such as EPROM, EEPROM, UV-EPROM or other type.

Flash MCUs account for 50 percent of the sales in 2007 and are forecast to increase in importance and size.  This report addresses why the average amount of memory in each MCU category (4-bit to 32-bit) is increasing each year.

This study will help you understand the importance of applications impacted by each of the MCU families from 8-bit to 32-bit.  Long life cycles influence both the importance and direction of the MCU.

To purchase this study, or to receive a copy of the Table of Contents, including a list of tables and figures, please contact Susan Cadel at 607-368-7600 or and reference the ML101-08 or MCU Memory :  A Flashy Trend?. 

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