Microcontroller unit study: A Flashy Trend?

Even the microcontroller market is expanding the use of Flash memory according to a recent study of trends in the use of Flash semiconductor ICs.


Phoenix, AZ — Even the microcontroller unit ( MCU ) market is expanding the use of Flash memory according to a study entitled MCU Memory : A Flashy Trend? by semiconductor marketing and consulting research company Semico . 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% in 2007, and unit shipments increased by 19%.
IC Cards , multipurpose (industrial control and other), automotive and consumer applications accounted for 90% of the units and generated 87% of the revenue. Automotive was the revenue leader with 36% and 16% of the units. Clearly, IC cards are quite price sensitive as they accounted for 37% of the units and just 14% of the revenue.
The 16-bit and 32-bit+ MCU markets have grown large enough to become 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).
Flash MCUs account for 50% of 2007 sales 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 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 and reference the ML101-08 or MCU Memory : A Flashy Trend?
– Edited by  C.G. Masi , senior editor
Control Engineering
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