According to market-research firm The Linley Group, handsets for mobile phones and similiar devices remain the largest target application for processor cores, as increases in functionality drive demand for multicore CPUs. For example, the Apple iPhone and other smartphones require multiple CPUs, DSPs, and a GPU to implement the complex capabilities of the device. Advanced handsets typically implement one CPU for the user interface and applications, and another for communications. Similarly, separate DSPs may perform audio multimedia processing and communications. Finally, a GPU is essential for processing 3D and vector-graphics images, providing slick user interfaces, gaming capability, and the high-resolution displays needed for GPS navigation and full-featured web browsing.
Another high-growth segment is home-electronics applications, including Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, and digital picture frames, which will create demand for processor to support high-definition audio and multimedia, advanced user interfaces, and Internet connectivity.
Comprising the majority of the market, CPU core shipments reached 5.3 billion in 2008 and are expected to double by 2012. DSP and GPU IP ship in much smaller volumes, but shipments are growing quickly. DSP shipments will grow at a compound annual rate of 20 percent through 2013, and GPU shipments in that timeframe will grow at 60 percent per year.