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Industrial PCs face competition from ARM-based products

09 January, 2012

Embedded box industrial PCs (IPCs) are likely to face increasing competition from rugged products based on ARM processors, predicts a new market report. According to IMS Research, Intel’s Atom processors have opened up a market for lower-performance, lower-power IPCs and suppliers that previously focused on x86 IPCs are now looking to ARM-based products to develop this trend. At the recent SPS/IPC/Drives show in Germany, Kontron, Adlink and Congatec announced ARM-based control products.

“During research for the latest annual edition of our IPC report, a large number of IPC suppliers stated that they were already developing ARM-based products or had plans to do so soon,” says the report’s author, Mark Watson. “As the next Windows operating system (due to be launched at the end of 2012) will support ARM, it is very likely that products with this architecture will reduce the growth of the low-end IPC market.”

According to IMS, the global market for industrial PCs was worth $2.07bn in 2010, up from $1.7bn in 2009. It predicts that by 2015, IPC revenues will be worth $3.5bn with more than three million IPCs being shipped.
 
It expects revenues from embedded box IPCs to grow the fastest. These rugged, low-power, fanless IPCs are suitable for harsh environments where water, extreme temperatures, dust, humidity or vibration may make other IPCs unsuitable. The footprints of embedded box IPCs are getting smaller, allowing them to be used in applications where size might have limited adoption of IPCs in the past.
 
Higher-end applications will continue to be dominated by IPCs based on Intel x86 processors. In many of these applications, power consumption is of less of a concern than processor performance or system functionality.




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