The cable modem silicon arena is beginning to look a lot like the sector that makes the actual devices as fewer and fewer players are snapping up larger and larger chunks of available market share.

Although eight chipmakers supply silicon to the cable modem market, the top four accounted for about 99 percent of unit shipments in 2002, reports In-Stat/MDR, a research firm that is owned by the same parent as CED magazine.

Further, In-Stat suggests that it's unlikely that all eight vendors will remain in the market by the end of 2003, as shipments and revenue decline.

The research firm estimates that the total worldwide market for cable modem chipsets will drop from 10.6 million units shipped in 2002 to 9.6 million in 2007. However, the market will spike at about 11.1 million units shipped in 2004, In-Stat predicts. On the revenue side, In-Stat expects the market to plunge from $159.3 million in 2002 to $90.8 million in 2007, a drop-off of about 43 percent.

"Given the declining revenue for the market forecasted over the period from 2003 to 2007, it is entirely conceivable that only the top four players will remain in this market by the end of the forecast period," says In-Stat analyst Sam Lucero.

According to In-Stat, the top four cable modem chip vendors in 2002, in terms of market share, were: Broadcom, Texas Instruments, Imedia Semiconductor (a spin-off of Terayon Communication Systems), and Conexant Systems Inc.

The market share picture in the cable modem market isn't much different, as only four vendors — Motorola Broadband, Thomson, Toshiba and Ambit — each held more than 10 percent of the worldwide share for DOCSIS-based modems, according to fourth quarter 2002 figures from Kinetic Strategies Inc. Combined, those companies accounted for about three-fourths of all DOCSIS modems shipped in the period.