PC Processor Shipments Surge 31%

The worldwide microprocessor market left the recession behind, buoyed by growth in mainstream and performance processors for laptops and desktops and X86 server chips.
Worldwide shipments of PC microprocessors in the fourth quarter of 2009 rose more than 31%, as the market left the recession behind and prepared for an expected improvement in PC sales, a market research firm said Tuesday.

On the vendor side, Advanced Micro Devices gained market share in 2009 against rival Intel, according to IDC. While Intel's share dipped 0.7%, AMD's rose 0.8%.

But the more dramatic movement in the quarter was in the overall market, which surged 31.3% over the fourth quarter in 2008.

"Compared to 4Q08, the huge rise in shipments indicates that the market has put the recession behind it," IDC analyst Shane Rau said in a statement. "Both comparisons indicate that the PC industry anticipates improvement in PC end demand in 2010."

For all of 2009, shipments rose 2.5% year over year, but revenue declined 7.1% to $28.6 billion. The drop was likely due in part to the popularity of inexpensive mini-laptops, called netbooks, which primarily use Intel's low-priced Atom processor. Netbooks were the hottest-selling category in the PC market last year.

However, in comparing sales from the third to the fourth quarter, IDC found a modest increase in mainstream and performance processors for laptops and desktops, which caused the overall market average selling price to rise 6.7% quarter over quarter.

The rise in ASP indicated that new products from Intel and AMD, like the Core i5 and Athlon II, respectively, were getting a warm welcome from consumers and computer makers. In addition, IDC found an uptick quarter over quarter in x86 server processors.

"The sequential rise in server processors indicates that server OEMs are starting to see corporations come off the sidelines," Rau said.

By category, shipments of mobile PC processors, including Atom, increased 11.7% quarter over quarter, x86 server processors rose 14.1%, and desktop processors grew 4.8%.

As to the vendors, Intel had an 80.5% share of the overall market in the fourth quarter, while AMD earned 19.4%, and VIA Technologies 0.2%. AMD gained 0.7% in the quarter, while Intel fel 0.6%. For the full year, Intel earned a 79.7% share, a loss of 0.7%; AMD gained 0.8% to 20.1%; and VIA Technologies had a 0.3% share.

While AMD in 2009 gained against Intel in the mobile PC and desktop categories, Intel grabbed a bigger share of the server and workstation segment. Intel gained 3.2% for an 89.9% share, while AMD lost an equal amount to end the year with a 10.1% share.

For 2010, IDC forecast a 15.1% increase year over year in PC processor shipments.

"We're looking forward to the end of the second quarter and the second half of the year as corporations qualify new client and server platforms and open up their IT budgets further," Rau said. "Combined with healthy consumer spending, the resumption of corporation spending will lead to a healthy 2010."

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