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Texas Instruments Takes a Shine to Luminary Micro.

On May 14, 2009 Texas Instruments announced it had acquired Luminary Micro, the leading supplier of ARM Cortex-M3 based microcontrollers.  The Stellaris family of Cortex-M3 MCUs will be added to TI’s product portfolio.

The entire Luminary Micro team in Austin, TX is joining TI.  The Stellaris family will become a brand name within TI.  The tools and support developed by Luminary Micro, such as StellarisWare, will be incorporated into TI’s programs.

Semico Spin

TI’s acquisition of Luminary Micro allows the company to leap frog its MCU roadmap.
The company is the largest supplier of ARM based products across several product types - MCUs, DSPs, applications processors and cell phone baseband chips.  ARM is also the fastest growing architecture in the 32-bit MCU segment.

TI has been shipping ARM 7 based MCUs (TMS470) for several years.  It did announce a Cortex R4 (TMS570) a few years ago.  However, this only began shipping in late 2008.  The TI ARM MCU roadmap has appeared stagnant for the last couple of years.  The Luminary acquisition changes this and puts TI back on the ARM MCU fast track.

In only a few years Luminary has shown a steep growth rate.  What is also notable is that Luminary has targeted a broad range of applications in industrial control, factory automation, building controls, and medical.  TI has focused its ARM MCUs on automotive applications.  In late 2008 and 1H 2009, the automotive market has been hit severely by the economic downturn and in turn the MCUs that serve this market.  The Stellaris product line enables TI to broaden its customer base.  This will be important as the MCU market recovers in late 2009 and 2010. 

In early 2009 the MCU market has taken a severe blow due in large part to a slow down in automotive and steeper than expected ASP declines.  Semico foresees improved conditions that will result in a slow recovery in 2H 2009.  However, this will not be enough to overcome the 1H 2009 slump.  Total MCU sales are projected to drop 12% to $12.1 B in 2009.  Semico foresees pent up demand across several markets refueling growth in 2010.  Total MCU sales are expected to grow 14.3% to $13.8 B in 2010.

Tony Massimini

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