Bright US$2.2bn future for secure microcontroller market

The secure MCU market is proving resilient despite ongoing chipset shortages, supply chain issues and looming recession affecting semiconductor industry

Despite facing an increasingly volatile semiconductor industry plagued by ongoing macroeconomic and political issues, the secure microcontroller (MCU) market grow to US$2.2 billion by 2026, according to a new report.

The findings emerged in ABI Research's Secure MCU Market Overview report, part of the company's Trusted Device Solutions research service. While the forecasted total available market has contracted - especially in the smart home, retail, advertising, and supply chain spaces - secure MCU shipments will only be temporarily adversely affected.

"In part, this is due to the niche nature of security demand which commands a higher value proposition," says Michela Menting, Trusted Device Solutions Research Director at ABI Research. "In the short term, supply chain issues due to trade embargoes and pandemic quarantines at manufacturing sites will affect availability. Yet, demand for security, especially in general purpose microcontrollers, will ensure the secure MCU market continues to be a high priority for device OEMs." 

Strong market demand will stem from utilities and industrial IoT, and from smart cities and buildings, notably for MCUs with Trusted Execution Technologies that can securely run mission-critical and highly sensitive applications at the edge.

EU and US policy and regulation drives investment

Several opportunities will continue to drive demand for secure MCUs, explains Menting. A growing body of policy and regulation, including the EU Cybersecurity Certification Framework, the EU Cyber Resilience Act, the EU Chips and the US CHIPS and Science Act encourages secure semiconductor investment. At the same time, demand for secure IoT lifecycle management capabilities means security IP choice for MCUs has become primary product differentiators in an increasingly competitive market. 

The secure MCU market is responding to this continued demand, says Menting. An increasing number of semiconductors have launched numerous new products in the last two years, catering to various IoT device types and use case scenarios. These include Renesas, NXP, STMicroelectronics, Microchip, and Infineon/Cypress. The market has coalesced around Arm Cortex processors, says ABI Research, in part due to the rich security IP available with TrustZone, but there is growing competition from the secure RISC-V movement, directly challenging Arm's dominance in the space.

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