Unknown chipmaker steals march on Intel, Qualcomm

Posted by Nick Farrell

Chinese chip vendor Allwinner Technologies might have sold more application processors for tablets in 2012 than Intel and Qualcomm put together.

According to eeTimes it is a myth that Samsung, Nvidia, Qualcomm and Intel are the top mobile chipmakers.

Quoting a Strategy Analytics report, last year 2012 Chinese vendors grabbed 20 percent volume share of the tablet application processor market between them.

While these vendors might be manufacturing at the low end of the market it is a market that by value grew 83 percent year-on-year to reach $2.7 billion.

Sravann Kundojjala, senior analyst with Strategy Analytics, pointed out that in China the top seller is dual-core ARM chips which sell for $4 or $5 and quad-cores at $8 or $9. This is less than half what Nvidia is selling its equivalent chips for and so probably the Chinese vendors, while significant in volume, do not yet have 10 percent of the market by value.

While Apple had about 48 percent revenue share of the tablet processor market in 2012, since its chips are only used in the iPad this limits their market share. Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Samsung and Qualcomm made up Strategy Analytics' top-five ranking of vendors.

Strategy Analytics reckons Nvidia led the non-iPad tablet market with 27 percent revenue share in 2012 having scored high-profile design wins in the Google Nexus 7 and the Microsoft Surface RT.

Strategy Analytics would like you to buy a $6,999 report but it is not difficult to guess who the behind the scenes Chinese chipmakers who are winning in the current market. There is Allwinner, Rockchip, Amlogic, Infotmic, Ingenic, Hi-Silicon, and NuFront.

EETimes claims that Allwinner, Rockchip and Amlogic are probably responsible for more than half the Chinese supply of tablet processors in 2012. Allwinner clearly has about 10 percent of the global supply by volume.

This would mean that it made more than Intel and Qualcomm who missed the tablet processor boat in 2012 and captured less than five percent volume share in the tablet applications processor market.

The figures show how far Intel in particular has to go before it has made an impact, but also how close the Chinese chipmakers are to being household names.