In 2013 there was a market growth of only a 2% microcontroller even though unit sales where up 10%, price erosion was 8%..
"Between 2012 and 2017, MCU revenues are projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.8 percent while unit shipments are expected to rise by a CAGR of 10.1 percent over the five-year period."
"The market division between 8-, 16- and 32-bit MCUs is clearly moving to the benefit of 32-bit MCU suppliers. In 2013, 16-bit MCU shipments are expected to rise 9 percent to 7.9 billion units. Shipments of 4-/8-bit MCUs are expected to grow 6 percent to 6.7 billion in 2013. Meanwhile, 32-bit MCU shipments are forecast to climb by 20 percent in 2013 to 4.5 billion units.
Over the next five years 32-bit devices will steadily grab a greater share of sales and unit volumes. By 2017, 32-bit MCUs are expected to account for 55 percent of microcontroller sales, while 16-bit devices will represent 22 percent of market revenues and 4-/8-bit will be about 23 percent, based on IC Insights’ forecast. In terms of unit volumes, 32-bit MCUs are expected account for 38 percent of microcontroller shipments in 2017, while 16-bit devices will represent 34 percent of the total, and 4-/8-bit designs are forecast to be 28 percent of units sold that year."
"A growing number of MCU suppliers are offering product families based on 32-bit RISC-processor cores licensed from ARM Holdings plc"
My take is that the move towards ARM does not benefit Atmel because it doesn't allows it to differentiate it self from the other ARM vendors.
But I believe that Atmel has the right product combinations for the IoT/Smart Metering.
8 bit AVR is much cheaper than 32 bit ARM and the IoT does not require much power; what it does require is low power sleep walking.
There are according to me several aspects in favour of Atmel at the light of the migration from 8bits RISC proprietary architectures to industry standard 32bit ARM CM0+ . I agree that the MCU core is not a differentiator any more, but there is more than the core when it deals with selecting a MCU vendor.
1- The Low Power culture embedded in Atmel's product development, a legacy of the AVR which is a power consumption champion.
2- High performance and smart peripherals, like self contained cap touch engine, user configurable serial communication ports, USB for some devices, ADC, DMA, LCD controllers etc. But the cherry on the cake is that the peripherals are smart, they can communicate between each over without the CPU to be involved and wake up on specific events
3- High quality, easy and funny to use hardware reference design and hardware development tools
4- The Atmel Studio integrated design evironement, professional but free of charge, is a great tool for every user, its popularity and ease of use could support the designers who are not experienced with 32bit platforms. Atmel Studio supports all Atmel Microcontrollers, 8 and 32bits
5- Loads of software reference designs, libraries, code examples provided by the company and the developpers community
6- The support of the Arduino ecosystem
7- Easy migration paths from the AVR to the CM0+ SAMD family, then from the SAMD to the CM3/CM4 SAM3 and SAM4
There is another factor, the fact that one of the main competitors of Atmel in the MCU arena, Microchip, did not embrace ARM Platform, and I believe some of the PIC designers might migrate to ARM cores and will have to look outside of MCHP-
My two cents, Happy week end-
I am using my first ARM on a project. I went with a Atmel SAM3S8C.
* The Atmel Studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is free. It can compile both 8-bit AVRs and 32-bit ARMs.
* Atmel has the Atmel Software Framework (ASF) to speed development although I am finding the learning curve for the first project steep.
* They have nice evaluation boards and code examples easy to use for the boards.
* The latest ARMs can be cheaper than an older 8-bit AVR. The 8051 microcontroller ruled the day 15-20 years ago. ARMs are referred to as the new 8051. A lot of bang for the buck.