ADAS raw data driving up demand for MCUs

The microcontroller market is expected to grow from $70 million to over $150 million by 2019 thanks to growing demand for raw data processing from associated driver assistance sensors.
By Ben Scott – Market Analyst, IMS Research (IHS Inc.) May 2, 2012

The semiconductor market for driver assistance systems is set to grow significantly into the foreseeable future. With an increasing number of vehicles being fitted with systems such as blind spot detection, lane departure warning, back-up cameras etc., there is growing demand for raw data processing from the associated driver assistance sensors. The microcontroller(MCU)/DSP market in driver assistance applications was $70 million in 2011 and is estimated to rise to $150 million by 2018, according to IMS Research’s, recently acquired by IHS Inc., leading automotive semiconductor study, The World Market for Semiconductors in OEM Automotive Electronic Systems – 2012 Edition

The microcontroller/DSP market for driver assistance systems is set to grow as driver assistance systems become more prevalent in the volume car segments. This is due to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) attempting to differentiate their vehicles, whilst also offering increased safety to drivers and passengers. Legislation is also a driving force for higher fitment rates of driver assistance systems.

"Over time, we will see a higher amount of raw data processing in the car, as the fitment rate of driver assistance systems increases," says Ben Scott, market analyst at IMS Research. "In turn, the number of driver assistance MCUs will increase proportionally."

In driver assistance applications, mainly 32-bit MCUs are used for processing data; however, 16-bit MCUs are used in back-up camera systems. Each sensor will have an MCU associated with it. "There is a significant amount of data processing at the sensor level," says Scott. "Once this processing is done, data can be sent to a central processing ‘sensor-fusion’ box. This aggregates and interprets the combined sensor data and, in turn, the driver assistance can function accordingly; for example, indicating there is a vehicle in your blind spot." An FPGA can be used to supplement the processing at a sensor level, for emerging technologies like adaptive cruise control. FPGAs are more expensive but offer flexibility and programmability for Tier 1s and OEMs.

Graph showing the world market for microcontrollers/DSPs in driver assistance systems. Courtesy: IMS Research