IDC: Embedded systems market to double by 2015

The market for embedded computer systems, which already generates more than US$1 trillion in revenue annually, will double in size over the next four years, according to a report about to be released by research company IDC.

Much of this growth will be propelled by more sophisticated, cloud-connected embedded systems, which will have faster chips, better connectivity and more advanced operating systems and analytical software, IDC predicted.

IDC referred to these systems as "Intelligent Systems," and they will grow from 19 percent of all unit shipments of major electronic systems in 2010 to more than 33 percent in 2015.

Due to be released next week, IDC's report, "Intelligent Systems: The Next Big Opportunity," states that this year more than 1.8 billion embedded systems will be shipped, which will create $1 trillion in revenue for component makers, software companies and integrators.

By 2015, more than 4 billion units will be shipped, which will create $2 trillion in revenue. Moreover, embedded systems will require 14.5 billion microprocessor cores by 2015.

Embedded systems are small computational and sensor-based electronic components that collect data and automate simple actions. They are widely used in both consumer and industrial applications, such as vending machines, refrigerators, digital music players, automobiles and routine assembly line tasks. As the cost and power requirements of microprocessors continue to plummet, the use of sophisticated microcontrollers becomes more feasible for a wider variety of tasks.