CompactPCI growing steadily

CompactPCI's hardiness is revealed in a recent merchant embedded computing report.

An interview with Steve Berry, Electronic Trend Publications

Electronic Trend Publications (ETP) has issued its report, The Merchant Embedded Computing Market, 2008 Edition. Analyst Steve Berry of Electronic Trend Publications spoke with CompactPCI and AdvancedTCA Systems editors recently about the report's findings.

Among those findings is one that might cause CompactPCI obit writers to hold off for a bit, given that CompactPCI currently accounts for 24 percent of the merchant market for standards-based embedded computing products. According to the report's Executive Summary, several hundred companies that are actively promoting products meeting the study's defined product scope make up the merchant market.

Communications, industrial, medical, and military/aerospace were the four generic application markets studied, with an Other category added to accommodate the products sold for a variety of applications outside those four areas. See Figure 1, which compares 2007 and 2012 application markets.

Figure 1

Within the Other category one can find subcategories including surface transportation, point-of-sale, enterprise storage, and security. According to Steve, security applications will be among the fastest growing markets.

When asked about any drive for green or Design for Energy Efficiency (DfEE) categories, Steve replied, "Green gets mentioned a little bit, but it has not become a major driver. These companies primarily promote their fitness for harsh environments or high reliability, more so than ëgreen.' Now having said that, many of them are quick to embrace products that save energy, such as Intel's Atom processor, because the available power is often limited in many applications."

Steve added that, "while some of the form factors may not change as rapidly as people think, the industry's ability to bring new processors into the mix, such as Intel's Atom, is pretty impressive. In some respects the introduction of products incorporating the Atom processor has been far quicker than in areas where that Atom processor is really targeted, such as PC-like products. Intel really aims that Atom processor as I understand it at next-generation hand-held products, but it may be more successful in board-level embedded markets."

Revenue by bus architecture

Sidebar 1

The report's bus architecture summary forecast, for years 2007 through 2012, shows a relatively slow change over to advanced architectures. PCI slot boards continued to make up around 14 percent of the year 2007 merchant embedded computing market. As noted earlier, CompactPCI holds 24 percent of the merchant market. The CompactPCI platform continues to experience steady increases in revenue. Steve said its health stems "mostly from momentum." "CompactPCI design wins are now in full production." Steve noted however that one might look in vain on the websites of the companies making up the biggest portion of the CompactPCI revenue forecast. CompactPCI is no longer mentioned on the sites because for future design wins the companies are pushing things like AdvancedTCA.

The architectures for which revenue is forecast include:

  • PCI
  • CompactPCI
  • AdvancedTCA
  • VMEbus
  • PMC
  • AdvancedMC
  • PC/104 and motherboards
  • COM
  • Other

The decision not to call out MicroTCA separately was made because "most of the dollars from any MicroTCA product are going to be within the AdvancedMC modules that populate it, aside from the box and the power supply and so forth," explained Steve. He sees MicroTCA competing against various small form factors, including older applications like some of the 3U CompactPCI or some of the 3U VITA products.

Steve found that "the industry covered in this report is financially pretty healthy; and while we do not publish anything other than publically available numbers, I see the industry in as good a shape as I have seen them since the downturn back in 2001."

Steve Berry is President and Principal Analyst of Electronic Trend Publications (ETP). Steve has been responsible for the direction of all aspects of ETP's broad ranging research portfolio since 1993. In the eighteen years prior to joining ETP, he held a variety of engineering, manufacturing management, and business development positions with General Electric and Xerox. Steve holds a BS in Engineering from North Carolina State University and an MBA from Stanford University.

More information about this report is available by contacting Steve at