The only problem [Nvidia has] is that at some point your eyes don't get any better - Bob Colwell, former chief architect, Intel
THE SMARTPHONE chip market swelled to $12.9bn in 2012, with Qualcomm taking the top spot, while Nvidia became the second largest tablet chip vendor behind Apple, thanks to Google's Nexus 7.
Strategy Analytics' figures show that the smartphone chip market grew by 60 percent in 2012 and was worth $12.9bn, with Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung taking 70 percent of the market. Strategy Analytics said that the tablet chip market grew by 83 percent to $2.7bn in 2012, with Apple and Nvidia taking the most market share.
Apple's and Samsung's healthy market shares in both smartphone and tablet markets for their respective processors are not surprising given the popularity of their devices. However Nvidia's strong showing in the tablet market, with Strategy Analytics claiming the chip designer took 27 percent of the non-iPad market share, is particularly impressive given its ageing Tegra 3 processor.
Nvidia scored some of the biggest tablet wins of last year with Google's Nexus 7 and Microsoft's Surface RT both using Tegra 3 chips. Qualcomm, which was the top smartphone chip vendor securing 43 percent of the total $12.9bn market, was barely a footnote in the tablet market, with Strategy Analytics combining Qualcomm and Intel and still ending up with less than five percent of tablet market share.
Strategy Analytics' revenue growth figures for smartphone and tablet chips highlight how important it is for AMD and Intel to get into these markets.
Yesterday Intel took the wraps off its Silvermont microarchitecture that the firm will be putting into Atom Merrifield and Bay Trail chips for smartphones and tablets, respectively. AMD is expected to show off its next generation Kabini and Tamash chips in the coming weeks, meaning that Qualcomm and in particular Nvidia and its Tegra 4 chip will face significantly more competition in 2013 than they did previously. µ
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