The market for general-purpose digital signal processor (DSP) chips is forecast to grow 8 percent in 2007 to the $9 B level according to a new market study from Forward Concepts.

The new study, "DSP Chip Strategies '07," predicts a more typical growth of 15 percent in 2008 driven by communications and multimedia applications. But the new study also emphasizes the even bigger embedded DSP market that will grow to $17.6 B in 2007, to almost twice the size of the general-purpose DSP chip market. The new in-depth study is believed to be the most comprehensive study available of markets driven by DSP technology, and includes the results of a new survey of DSP professionals in over 30 countries.

Forward Concepts’ president and principal analyst, Will Strauss, is the author of the study and he is considered the foremost authority on DSP market trends. According to Strauss, “The general-purpose DSP market is the best known and is dominated by Analog Devices, Freescale, Agere/LSI and Texas Instruments. The embedded DSP market, on the other hand, is where most new opportunities for emerging companies are because of lower barriers to entry.

For example, a number of new companies identified in the study are introducing parallel array processor chips for unprecedented DSP horsepower on a single chip at relatively low clock frequencies and reduced power consumption." The embedded DSP market is dominated by companies like Qualcomm, Broadcom, Marvell and Infineon, with most of their DSP products offered as Systems on Chip (SoC). Because of the heavy SoC emphasis, the major RISC vendors have added DSP capability to their product offerings. The report profiles the DSP market stance of these and over 100 other chip and core vendors.

The study points out that the general-purpose DSP market is dominated by communications applications, with cellular being the biggest. The embedded DSP market, however, is more closely identified with multimedia applications. However, that market segment also includes communications chips for Wi-Fi, WiMAX and Bluetooth as well as DSL and cable modems. All of these and new DSP-centric markets like DAB and HDTV are also forecast in the report through 2011.