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MCU Continues To Be In Short Supply, Local MCU Vendors Take Advantage Of The Rise


MCU continues to be in short supply, local MCU vendors take advantage of the rise


MCU market demand in 2017 is strong, and this year there is a phenomenon of stock prices, the industry is expected this round of MCU out of stock prices tide will continue until next year. In addition, with the development of the Internet of Things era, new demands on the MCU are generated, and the original MCUs are required to have the capability of rapidly responding to market demands and customized solutions.

According to IC Insights market research report, MCU shipments in 2016 reached 22.4 billion, MCU sales came to nearly 16.6 billion US dollars. IC Insights predicts the annual revenue of the MCU market will grow steadily and reach a record high in the next five years, though overall shipments of the market will slow down.

On the other hand, worldwide 32-bit MCU shipments surpass the sum of 4/8 MCUs and 16-bit MCU shipments in 2015 and maintain a rapid growth of about 30% in recent years. As smart products have become more demanding on processing power, the ARM 32-bit core has formed a strong ecosystem and the price of 32-bit MCUs is gradually approaching 4/8-bit MCUs, further driving up the market for 32-bit MCUs.

All in all, the era of 32-bit MCU market has come, MCU manufacturers how to "compete Central Plains"? China local MCU vendors can seize the opportunity, then come from behind? In ELEXCON2017 Shenzhen International Electronics Show, the International Electronics Business Times interviewed a number of MCU manufacturers to understand the MCU's development trend and the real situation in the MCU market.

Listen to the market demand, provide MCU customized services

In the era of the Internet of Things, the needs of the Internet of Things application market are very subdivided, so MCU OEMs are required to respond rapidly to market changes and provide differentiated solutions. One of the embodiments is that more and more smart products have screens, such as smart refrigerator displays, smart watches, smart door locks, etc., which require the original MCU to enhance the image processing capabilities of the MCU.

At the ELEXCON 2017 Shenzhen International Electronics Show, ST demonstrated several MCU solutions with excellent image processing capabilities and introduced the STM32H7 family, the highest performing ARM Cortex -M7-based MCU on the market today. Adopt 40nm advanced technology, 2M FLASH, 1M RAM, up to 400M clock speed, in floating-point operations, image processing applications such as excellent demand on the scene.

According to ST site staff, in terms of graphics processing, STM32H7 uses hard decoding acceleration, compared to the traditional soft decoding mode allows CPU utilization from 70% to 3%, ideal for HMI applications, graphics and audio support. As the industry MCU 40nm process has not yet mass-produced, STM32H7 to mass production until next year.


Smart Micro is an excellent local MCU manufacturers, has successfully produced a 32-bit MCU chip based on the ARM Cortex-M core products. In the face of the arrival of the Internet of Things, Smart Micro is how to deal with it? Electronic MCU product division general manager Lou Fangchao on the International Electronic Business Reporter said that in the face of powerful MCU manufacturers abroad, local companies can not think of MCU to fight the price, it will die, because the company no money to do the next generation of products R & D. Smart Micro attaches great importance to product differentiation, listen to the voice of the market, because differentiation itself is the driving force behind the development and growth of MCU, Smart Micro has been actively communicate with partners, according to customer's key indicators and core needs through flexible business model Do customized services.


Smart micro on the one hand to provide a comprehensive hardware solutions and reference designs, covering more than 10 kinds of Internet of Things applications. On the other hand, it not only provides universal MCU products, but also devotes itself to build the ecological chain of MCU and provides design support of fully customized analog / digital modules, functions, firmwares, documents, routines and development environments, as well as debuggers, Application development boards and other peripheral support, allowing customers to develop more simple.

Lou Fangchao mentions the importance of the toolchain to the development and growth of MCU manufacturers, which can enhance MCU security features and bring security to customers. Because the current crack MCU is not to crack the MCU itself, but to crack debugging, downloading, burning and other tool chain this weak link. In the ELEXCON2017 Shenzhen International Electronics Show, Smart Micro launched a self-developed debugger, becoming the only one in mainland China has its own debugger MCU products manufacturers to further improve the ecological chain of MCU.


Figure: smart micro-debugger

IOT demand is strong, MCU continued to supply demand next year

2017, out of stock electronic components industry prices surge, MCU is not immune. It is reported that many MCU manufacturers product delivery are extended from 4 months to 6 months, Japan MCU manufacturers is stretched to 9 months. Lou Fangchao said MCU MCU as a lower alternative control chip, MCU vendors out of stock out of stock out of stock may bring catastrophe to customers. As a local excellent MCU manufacturer that aims to go global, the Smart Micro is very cautious on the supply, with no price hike. It also minimizes the impact of out-of-stock, giving priority to customers with forcast service rather than entering the customer's supply chain Will make the stock out of things happen.

Lou Fang Chao believes that there are two main reasons for MCU supply shortage, on the one hand is the first half of 2017 the macroeconomic outlook for the entire electronics industry is bearish, whether it is fabs, MCU manufacturers or channel manufacturers in terms of production capacity and availability insufficient. So MCU shortage outbreak from July and August this year, began to show up and peaked in October. On the other hand, the demand for MCUs in some industry-specific applications soars. From the perspective of the Chinese market, bicycles are shared in the first half of the year and are wirelessly charged in the second half of the year.

By 2018, MCU shortage prices will continue the case, a very important reason is the rise of raw materials, the major global wafer companies to raise prices next year quoted imperative, the estimated price increases in terms of 30 %. There are already fabs announced price increases, may result in price increases MCU out of stock. Recently, the world's largest MCU maker NXP notice that from the first quarter of 2018 on NXP's MCU, digital networks, automotive microcontrollers and other major products to raise prices. Price increases ranging from 5% -10%, which marks the semiconductor giant fired the first shot in 2018 MUC chip prices, the same industry or will also respond.

The next three to five years, local MCU vendors where opportunities?

Lou Fangchao said that the next three to five years, smart and optimistic about the following three opportunities as MCU vendors.

1, Safety, not only means that the security encryption, more is to provide a sense of security. China's solution providers are rapidly growing, but also need a strong local chip makers to protect their IP, which is the opportunity for local MCU vendors, it is precisely where many domestic manufacturers easily overlooked;

2, wireless, ARM core expandable convenience allows the MCU more flexible, smart micro can provide, including Bluetooth, WiFi, LoRa, NB-IoT and other interfaces.

3, Lowpower, semiconductor materials, technology evolution is relatively slow, MCU chip makers more through the architecture, IP, algorithms and other aspects to reduce power consumption. In addition, low power consumption also varies with the specific application. Smart micro-a low-power MCU can make the product in the long-term standby state for six years. However, once a week, the e-cigarette is charged once and does not need such a low-power solution. Instead, it needs to quickly restore the site's capabilities.

Abby  Zhang

Asco Technology Co.,Limited

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