uCPE processor sales set for a growth spurt: report

network slicing
IHS Markit says shipments of uCPE processors will increase to 155 million units by 2023. (Pixabay)

According to a report by IHS Markit, sales of processors for universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) will sail to $327 million by 2023, which would be a big jump from $7 million this year.

The promise of universal customer premises equipment is based on using a single off-the-shelf box coupled with software instead of numerous pieces of equipment. With uCPE, service providers can save on capex related to buying multiple devices and benefit from deploying multiple virtual network functions (VNFs) and cloud-native applications in production.

RELATED: Chua: SD-WAN and uCPE – not quite done yet

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While the uCPE concept has been around for several years, it hasn't quite taken off like many in the industry initially expected. But that could change over the next few years. According to IHS Markit, uCPE is finding increasing market acceptance by providing a complete pico-cloud that includes compute, storage and switching features.

In order to support the move to virtualization, uCPE devices increasingly are employing sophisticated application-specific logic coprocessors and 64-bit microprocessors as their main compute processors, according to the report by IHS Markit's Kelson Astley, research analyst for embedded processors.

Shipments of application-specific logic coprocessors for uCPE devices are projected rise to 155 million units in 2023, up from 1.2 million last year.

According to Astley, uCPE is also a candidate for higher performance processors and coprocessors that may include support for greater analytics capabilities. These include general-purpose graphics processing units (GP-GPUs), which will see shipments rise to 1.3 million units in 2023, up from negligible levels this year. 

Shipments of high-end 64-bit processors for uCPE will grow to 104 million units in 2023, up from less than 1 million in 2018.

Orange Business Services and Colt Technology Services are among the service providers that have deployed uCPE boxes with their customers.

Traditional OEMs that already have uCPE products include Dell, Ciena, HPE, Juniper and Huawei, but Astley said smaller vendors are also entering the uCPE fray.

"With the large variety of uCPE players, suppliers of all types of processors are likely to find opportunity in this burgeoning market," according to Astley.

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