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Strong Notebook Sales Boost PC Shipment Forecast

Global PC shipments are expected to rise to 264 million units this year, an 11.2% increase from the 239 million PCs shipped in 2006.

Market researcher iSuppli has increased its forecast for PC shipments this year, due to stronger-than-expected notebook sales in the first quarter.

Global PC shipments are expected to rise to 264 million units this year, an 11.2% increase from the 239 million PCs shipped in 2006, iSuppli said. The firm's previous forecast called for a 10.7% increase.

Notebook shipments for the first three months of 2007 were 3% higher than expected, rising to 21.8 million units, which was 23% higher than the same period a year ago. ISuppli had expected fewer shipments, because it expected buyers to delay purchases until after Intel shipped Santa Rosa, the chipmaker's new notebook microprocessor platform. "However, Santa Rosa did not have a significant negative effect on first-quarter shipments," iSuppli analyst Matthew Wilkins said in a statement.

Notebook shipments are expected to account for nearly 40% of total 2007 PC shipments, iSuppli said.

In a related note, iSuppli reissued its forecast for solid-state drives in notebook PCs, predicting that the penetration of solid state disk drives (SSDs) in mobile computers would reach 12% by the end of 2009. In contrast, penetration of hybrid hard drives, which use a combination of flash memory and hard disk drives, would reach 35% in two years.

SSDs have been getting a lot of industry attention as eventual replacements for hard disk drives, particular in ultra-mobile PCs. SSDs have the advantage of greater reliability and durability. The storage device also uses less power. SSDs, however, are considerably more expensive, so adoption will increase gradually, as prices drop.

The adoption of hybrid hard drives (HHDs), however, are expected to increase more rapidly that SSDs, because they cost less and offer a level of data integrity that's delivered only in tried-and-true hard disk drive technology, iSuppli analyst Krishna Chander said.

Intel is offering another approach to PC flash memory called Turbo Memory, codenamed Robson. The technology, available this year, works in conjunction with hard disk drives to offer advantages such as faster boot time and application performance. Turbo Memory is expected to be adopted faster that HHDs, which is still undergoing standardization, iSuppli said.

Overall, flash memory in one form or another is expected to be used in data storage in nearly 60% of notebooks that ship in the fourth quarter of 2009, iSuppli said. Complete replacement of hard disk drives by SDDs is expected to represent a small portion of the total penetration number during the same timeframe.

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