ARM-powered notebooks poised to ramp

Analysts at Nomura Equity Research project that ARM-powered processors will make serious inroads in the notebook computer market by 2013.

According to an industry note obtained by EE Times, the expected ramp up can be attributed to Microsoft’s hotly anticipated and RISC-friendly Windows 8 OS, as well as the low-power sipping advantages offered by ARM SoCs. 

Indeed, a number of OEMs are apparently “eager” to design multiple form factors around ARM processors, despite some lingering questions over what software they will run.

In any case, Nomura analysts believe Windows 8 notebook application processor shipments are on track to hit 20 million in 2013 and increase to an impressive 290 million in 2015.

ARM chips will likely claim 3 percent of the lucrative market in 2013 – and should jump to 17 percent, or 49 million units in 2015.

It should be noted that analysts at Sterne Agee also believe emerging market growth could shift from x86 PCs to lower-cost Windows ARM platforms. 

“While PCs have seen the strongest engine of growth from emerging countries, the emergence of lower-cost ARM PC platforms in C2H12 could become a more attractive option for the low-cost geographies,” Vijay Rakesh and Mark Kelley wrote in a recent industry note obtained by TG Daily

“We believe many of the Asian PC OEMs, Acer, Lenovo and Asustek, with 10% of shipments already on tablets, are all working on Win8/ARM PC solutions, thereby lowering focus on core PCs. We believe 2012 could see 5% of NB and 2013 ~10% of NB move to ARM-based platforms.”

According to Rakesh and Kelley, PC OEMs-ODMs began to work with QCOM-TXN on new ARM PC platforms in late C3Q (Sep). As such, the PC channel expects to shift 10-15% of the PC mix in 2H12 to ARM-based Win8 PC platforms.

“The attraction for ODMOEMs is that build-license cost structure is such that the OEM-ODM will make similar margins on x86 as ARM (unlike netbooks), while also delivering low-cost ‘tablet competitive’ platforms to the marketplace,” the analysts explained.

“We [project] NB growth will start to slow from 10-20% y/y growth in the last 5 years to 5-10% growth in 2012-2014 as x86 sees share loss to new lower cost ARM platforms. We believe ARM platform growth is aided by the need for PC OEMs to compete with tablets/iPads.”