“In the past couple of years, Samsung has come on strong in the PDA CPU segment, offering ARM-based processors,” said Robert Lineback, an analyst with IC Insights, a market research firm.
“Others like Freescale and Texas Instruments are also challenging Intel, which has the lead in PDA central processors but has fallen behind the others in applying process technologies below 0.13-micron,” Lineback said. “Until the launch of ‘Monahans,’ Intel's entire XScale lineup has been based on very mature aluminum 0.18-micron technologies. Intel is playing catch-up from a process point of view in this CPU segment.”
There is good and bad news for Intel. The processor giant has major design wins at Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), which is developing next-generation BlackBerry smartphones.
“It seems that RIM's legal battle with NTP could play a factor in Intel's success due to the alliance to implement the next-generation XScale processor (Monahans) with a cellular phone radio processor (Hermon) for the future BlackBerry, smartphone-type systems,” Lineback said.
The overall PDA market is expected to exceed the $5 billion mark for the first time in 2006 after rebounding from the previous peak of $4.4 billion in 2001, according to IC Insights. The PDA market includes data-centric smartphones, but not voice-centric smartphones.
IC revenues for PDA systems grew to $1.72 billion in 2005 from $1.57 billion in 2004, according to IC Insights. PDA IC sales will reach $1.79 billion in 2006, and then remain flat in 2007. In 2008, PDA chip sales will rise to $1.82 billion before slipping to $1.78 billion in 2009, according to the firm.