Multi-core processors are the name of the game in high-end smartphones and tablets in 2011 and are increasingly becoming an essential marketing and technology strategy for every handset vendor and silicon vendor. We estimate multi-core processor penetration in smartphones will rise from 15 percent in 2011 to 45 percent in 2015, and that ARM's Cortex-A9, Cortex-A5 and Cortex-A15 and Intel's x86 architectures will fuel the multi-core processor growth in smartphones over the next few years.
In 2010, over 45 percent of Android smartphones shipped with a 1GHz or higher processor, hitting the ceiling on what is possible with a single core processor. Adding a second core is the logical next step to boosting the speed without raising the power consumption in handheld devices such as smartphones.
Samsung, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments, Marvell, Renesas and Broadcom are well positioned to capture share in the smartphone multi-core processor market. Freescale recently announced its i.MX 6 processor family but the company has less visibility when it comes to smartphone design-wins.
Having largely won the single core smartphone apps processor market, baseband-integrated vendors are now faced with a multi-core processor challenge. We believe the smartphone multi-core processor market will be dominated by stand-alone apps processor vendors in 2011. By our estimates, baseband-integrated multi-core apps processor will account for about one third of total smartphone multi-core apps processor shipments in 2011 with the potential for higher share in future.