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Communications Semiconductor Market Forecast 2018–2023

Published July 2019

Authors: Bob Wheeler

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Market Research From The Industry Experts

The market for communications ASSPs has become fragmented across both end-use categories and geographies. In Ethernet, data centers are driving growth while the traditional enterprise market languishes. In broadband, PON is growing while DSL is losing share. Meanwhile, the supply base, once populated by a mixture of startups, midsized companies, and a few big companies has become increasingly concentrated. With more technologies under its roof, the typical chip supplier is better able to integrate system functions into a single chip to lower system cost. With fewer competitors, the supplier is also more likely to avoid the ruinous price wars that once plagued product markets such as DSL. How all these factors come into play affects our outlook for communications semiconductors. Companies seeking to understand these dynamics will benefit from the perspective of the leading group of communications semiconductor analysts.

"Communications Semiconductor Market Forecast 2018–2023" provides the detailed market information needed to sort out the complexities of this market. With this report, chip vendors, investors, and OEMs will readily see how big the mature product markets are and how fast the emerging categories are growing. 

Communications semiconductor product categories covered in the report include 10-, 25-, 40-, 50-, 100-, and 400-Gigabit Ethernet components, PON and VDSL transceivers, cable modems, network search engines, home-networking chips, optical-transport ICs, and optical-interface components used in optical modules. Also included are forecasts for FPGAs, embedded processors, server processors, and integrated base-station processors.

The report includes a brief text summary providing analysis of the data and a set of tables for more than a dozen categories of communications semiconductors. The single-user license includes summary analysis of the data and is packaged with a non-printing PDF that provides market-forecast tables for more than a dozen product categories. The corporate license includes a PDF that permits printing. For easier data reuse, the corporate-license edition is packaged with a Microsoft Excel workbook containing all of the data.

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As the leading vendor of analysis for communications silicon, The Linley Group has the expertise to develop a high-quality set of market estimates. Our analyst team applies its extensive experience and network of industry contacts to deliver the quantitative information you need to make informed business decisions. Whether you are looking for a well-established vendor to source from, a vendor to partner with, or a rising company to invest in, this report will cut your research time and save you money. Order "Communications Semiconductor Market Forecast" today.

This report is written for: 

  • Product managers and executives seeking to identify product markets in which to invest or divest.
  • Strategic sourcing professionals and engineers at OEMs seeking information about pricing and other chip-market trends.
  • Investors and financial analysts seeking data to support investment decisions.

The Linley Group has developed forecasts of communications ASSPs for wired applications, embedded microprocessors, and FPGAs using information gathered in its market-share process, from public financials and other public sources, and from reviewing spending and technology trends. This report also includes our forecasts for server processors and integrated base-station processors.

Following a solid 2018, the market for chips sold into communications systems declined in the first half of 2019. Customers built inventory in 2H18 across multiple markets, including cloud data centers and enterprise. Huawei built inventory in anticipation of a possible U.S.-export ban, which was in fact imposed in May 2019. Tariffs and geopolitical uncertainty contributed to other supply-chain disruptions, including some movement of contract manufacturing outside of China. In total, we expect wireline communications-ASSP revenue to decline 3.4% in 2019, essentially wiping out 2018’s growth. 

We expect embedded processors and FPGAs will perform better than ASSPs in 2019, with both categories growing modestly. Sales of embedded processors into communications are growing, benefiting from growth in cloud data centers, whereas FPGAs are seeing early demand from 5G wireless infrastructure. Overall, we expect communications equipment will consume $13.3 billion in ASSPs, processors, and FPGAs in 2019, down from $13.5 billion in 2018. 

We expect almost all ASSP segments will decline in 2019, although the optical-transport (OTN) segment will be nearly flat. The Ethernet segment will fare better than most while the broadband segment creates drag. Driven by hyperscale data centers, sales of 25Gbps and faster Ethernet will rise even as overall Ethernet revenue drops. In broadband, PON CPE shipments will decline as FTTH penetration in China approaches saturation. 

Beyond 2019, the picture is similar for the largest segments, as Ethernet returns to growth while wired-broadband stagnates. As the largest data centers deploy 25G, 50G, 100G, and 400G Ethernet, 10G Ethernet revenue will stall. In broadband, CPE upgrades and technology transitions will replace subscriber growth as the major drivers. 

The majority of mobile-network operators will initially deploy 5G using existing macro sites, whereas only those few employing millimeter-wave spectrum will make widespread use of small cells. Early deployments will boost sales of FPGAs and integrated base-station processors, but ASICs boost sales of FPGAs and integrated base-station processors, but ASICs will dominate baseband processing over the longer term. 

Ethernet chips will provide much of the communications-ASSP revenue growth from 2018 to 2023, according to our forecast. The hottest trend is the emergence of 25G, 50G, and 100G Ethernet, which ramped into volume in 2016. Whereas past Ethernet speeds have taken years to reach high volumes, deployments by hyperscale data-center operators are driving much faster growth for these new rates. These same customers will drive the 400G Ethernet ramp beginning in 2020. Enterprise (private-cloud) data centers will consume a mix of 10G and 25G Ethernet. Enterprise-access switches will increasingly consume 10GbE components to handle Wi-Fi access points equipped with 2.5GBase-T ports.

Optical-interface ICs will also drive a large portion of the ASSP-revenue growth in this forecast period. Although this segment has been plagued by inventory corrections, the long-term trend is clearly positive. Data centers consume optical modules for both intra-data-center links and inter-datacenter connections (DCI). 10Gbps PON will also contribute to growth in this segment.

Compared with communications ASSPs, both embedded processors and FPGAs have greater exposure to wireless infrastructure. They also serve large markets outside of communications. That diversification should drive good growth for embedded processors and FPGAs over the next five years. 

Communications, the largest application for embedded processors, has a mixed outlook. A significant portion of these processors goes into base stations, and we expect this segment will decline through 2021. On the other hand, we expect embedded-processor revenue from switches, routers, and security equipment will grow substantially. Thus, wireless infrastructure becomes a smaller contributor to overall revenue from communications by the end of this forecast period.

We track sales of FPGAs into communications and other applications. The downturn in LTE wireless infrastructure severely impacted FPGA sales in communications, but 5G wireless deployments have recently restarted growth. Still, it will take several years to exceed the LTE revenue peak seen in 2014. 

FPGA sales into other applications posted strong year-over-year growth in 2018 and have an excellent outlook. A number of new applications will drive growth, including automotive advanced driver-assistance systems, server acceleration, and AI.

Complementing our comprehensive market-share report, this document provides investors, product-marketing staff, and executives with insight into the state of the communications IC market and key trends. Extending our ongoing coverage of the industry, it outlines both our quantitative estimates and the important assumptions behind them so that readers can better integrate our forecasts with other information they may have.

List of Figures
List of Tables
About the Authors
About the Publisher
Executive Summary
1 Introduction
Product Categorization and Report Organization
Forecast Methodology
Analysis Overview
Embedded Processors and FPGAs
2 Processors
Network Processors
NPU Forecast Assumptions
NPU Forecast Accelerators
NPU Forecast Inhibitors
Embedded Microprocessors
Embedded-Microprocessor Forecast Assumptions
Embedded-Microprocessor Forecast Accelerators
Embedded-Microprocessor Forecast Inhibitors
Embedded Processors for Communications Assumptions
Embedded Processors for Communications Accelerators
Embedded Processors for Communications Inhibitors
Integrated Base-Station Processors
Integrated Base-Station-Processor Forecast Assumptions
Integrated Base-Station-Processor Forecast Accelerators
Integrated Base-Station-Processor Inhibitors
Server Microprocessors
Server-Microprocessor Forecast Assumptions
Server-Microprocessor Forecast Accelerators
Server-Microprocessor Forecast Inhibitors
3 Ethernet
ASSPs for Ethernet Switching
Gigabit and Fast Ethernet Component Assumptions
Gigabit and Fast Ethernet Accelerators/Inhibitors
10GbE Switch Forecast Assumptions
10GbE Switch Forecast Accelerators
10GbE Switch Forecast Inhibitors
100G & 400GbE Ethernet Switch Assumptions
100G & 400GbE Ethernet Switch Accelerators
100G & 400GbE Ethernet Switch Inhibitors
ASSPs for Ethernet Adapters
Ethernet Adapter Forecast Assumptions
Ethernet Adapter Forecast Accelerators
Ethernet Adapters Forecast Inhibitors
5G, 10G, 100G and 400G Ethernet PHYs
5G, 10G, 100G and 400G Ethernet PHY Forecast Assumptions
Ethernet PHY Forecast Accelerators/Inhibitors
4 Broadband
Broadband CPE ICs
Broadband Infrastructure ICs
Broadband IC Forecast Assumptions
Broadband IC Forecast Accelerators
Broadband IC Forecast Inhibitors
5 Other Networking ASSPs
Optical-Transport ASSPs
Optical-Transport ASSP Forecast Assumptions
Optical-Transport ASSP Forecast Accelerators
Optical-Transport ASSP Forecast Inhibitors
Optical-Interface ICs
Optical-Interface IC Forecast Assumptions
Optical-Interface IC Forecast Accelerators
Optical-Interface IC Forecast Inhibitors
Network Search Engines
Search Engine Forecast Assumptions
Search Engine Forecast Accelerators
Search Engine Forecast Inhibitors
Home-Networking and Access ASSPs
Home-Networking and Access ASSP Forecast Assumptions
Home-Networking and Access ASSP Accelerators
Home-Networking and Access ASSP Inhibitors
Other Wired-Communications ASSPs
Other Wired-Communications ASSPs Forecast Assumptions
FPGAs
FPGA Forecast Assumptions
FPGA Forecast Accelerators
FPGA Forecast Inhibitors
Figure 1-1. Taxonomy of wired-communications ASSPs.
Figure 1-2. Industry revenue of wired-communications ASSPs by product category, 2018–2023.
Figure 1-3. Industry revenue of select general-purpose semiconductors, 2018–2023.
Figure 2-1. Industry revenue of network processors by segment, 2018–2023.
Figure 2-2. Industry revenue of embedded microprocessors by application, 2018–2023.
Figure 2-3. Industry revenue of embedded microprocessors by communications sub-application, 2018–2023.
Figure 2-4. Industry revenue of integrated base-station processors by cell size, 2018–2023.
Figure 2-5. Industry revenue of server microprocessors by market segment, 2018–2023.
Figure 3-1. Industry revenue of Ethernet ASSPs by speed, 2018–2023.
Figure 3-2. Industry shipments of Ethernet-switch ports by speed, 2018–2023.
Figure 3-3. Industry revenue of ASSPs for Ethernet switching by speed, 2018–2023.
Figure 3-4. Industry port-shipments of ASSPs for Ethernet adapters by speed, 2018–2023.
Figure 3-5. Industry revenue of ASSPs for Ethernet adapters by speed, 2018–2023.
Figure 3-6. Industry shipments of Ethernet-PHY ASSPs by speed/media, 2018–2023.
Figure 4-1. Industry port-shipments of ASSPs for broadband CPE by technology, 2018–2023.
Figure 4-2. Industry revenue of ASSPs for broadband CPE by technology, 2018–2023.
Figure 4-3. Industry port-shipments of ASSPs for broadband infrastructure by technology, 2018–2023.
Figure 4-4. Industry revenue of ASSPs for broadband infrastructure by technology, 2018–2023.
Figure 5-1. Industry revenue of ASSPs for optical transport networks, 2018–2023.
Figure 5-2. Industry revenue of optical-interface ICs, 2018–2023.
Figure 5-3. Industry revenue of network-search-engine ASSPs, 2018-2023.
Figure 5-4. Industry revenue from home networking and access ASSPs, 2018-2023.
Figure 5-5. Industry revenue of other wired-communications ASSPs, 2018-2023.
Figure 5-6. Industry revenue of FPGAs for communications and all other applications, 2018-2023.
Table 1-1. Industry revenue of wired-communications ASSPs by product category, 2018–2023.
Table 1-2. Industry revenue of select general-purpose semiconductors, 2018–2023.
Table 2-1. Industry revenue of network processors by segment, 2018–2023.
Table 2-2. Industry revenue of embedded microprocessors by application, 2018–2023.
Table 2-3. Industry revenue of embedded microprocessors by communications sub-application, 2018–2023.
Table 2-4. Industry revenue of integrated base-station processors by cell size, 2018–2023.
Table 2-5. Industry revenue of server microprocessors by market segment, 2018–2023.
Table 3-1. Industry revenue of Ethernet ASSPs by speed, 2018–2023.
Table 3-2. Industry shipments of Ethernet-switch ports by speed, 2018–2023.
Table 3-3. Industry average ASSP cost per port for Ethernet switches by speed, 2018–2023.
Table 3-4. Industry revenue of Ethernet-switch ports by speed, 2018–2023.
Table 3-5. Industry port-shipments of ASSPs for Ethernet adapters (MAC and MAC-PHY ICs) by speed, 2018–2023.
Table 3-6. Industry ASP of Ethernet-adapter ASSPs by speed, 2018–2023.
Table 3-7. Industry revenue of Ethernet-adapter ASSPs by speed, 2018–2023.
Table 3-8. Industry port-shipments of PHY ASSPs for Ethernet by speed/media, 2018–2023.
Table 3-9. Industry ASP of Ethernet-PHY ASSPs by speed/media, 2018–2023.
Table 3-10. Industry revenue of Ethernet-PHY ASSPs by speed/media. 2018-2023.
Table 4-1. Industry port-shipments of ASSPs for broadband CPE, by technology, 2018–2023.
Table 4-2. Industry ASP of ASSPs for broadband CPE by technology, 2018–2023.
Table 4-3. Industry revenue of ASSPs for broadband CPE by technology, 2018–2023.
Table 4-4. Industry port-shipments of ASSPs for broadband infrastructure by technology, 2018–2023.
Table 4-5. Industry ASP of ASSPs for broadband infrastructure by technology, 2018–2023.
Table 4-6. Industry revenue of ASSPs for broadband infrastructure by technology, 2018–2023.
Table 5-1. Industry revenue of ASSPs for optical transport networks, 2018-2023.
Table 5-2. Industry revenue of optical-interface ICs, 2018–2023.
Table 5-3. Industry revenue of network-search-engine ASSPs, 2018–2023.
Table 5-4. Industry revenue from home networking and access ASSPs, 2018-2023.
Table 5-5. Industry revenue of other wired-communications ASSPs, 2018-2023.
Table 5-6. Industry revenue of FPGAs for communications and all other applications, 2018-2023.

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