As the market of microprocessors increased rather tangibly year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2009, Advanced Micro Devices managed to fight back a small chunk of market share from Intel Corp. and even Via Technologies. Rather surprisingly, despite of rather negative predictions, unit sales of central processing units (CPUs) increased slightly in 2009 compared to the previous year, a good news for all market players.
Microprocessor Market Up 9% Sequentially, Up 31.3% Annually
According to IDC market research firm, worldwide PC microprocessor shipments in the fourth calendar quarter of 2009 rose modestly, compared to Q3 2009, but still achieved all-time record levels for a single quarter. Notably, when compared to Q4 2008, shipments in Q4 2009 rose 31.3%. Mercury Research claims that supplies of CPUs grew 9% sequentially in the fourth quarter. For the full year 2009, total PC processor unit shipments grew 2.5%, while revenue declined 7.1% to $28.6 billion, according to IDC.
"Compared to Q3 2009, the modest rise in shipments in Q4 2009 indicates that the market is returning to normal seasonal patterns. Compared to 4Q08, the huge rise in shipments indicates that the market has put the recession behind it. Both comparisons indicate that the PC industry anticipates improvement in PC end demand in 2010,” said Shane Rau, director of semiconductors: personal computing research at IDC.
According to Mercury Research, shipments of CPUs in Q4 2009 exceeded 100 million units, over $50 million of which were chips for mobile applications.
Average Selling Prices of Chips Increases
Looking at market performance by PC form-factor, both mobile PC processors and PC server processors grew well. Mobile PC processors, which include Intel’s Atom processors for netbooks, increased 11.7% in Q4 2009 compared to Q3 2009. x86 server processors grew 14.1% quarter over quarter. Desktop processors grew 4.8% quarter over quarter.
On the client side – mobile and desktop – IDC notes that mainstream and performance processors rose modestly as a percentage of the total mix compared to value processors, which caused the overall market average selling price of processors to rise 6.7% quarter over quarter.
"The sequential rise in mainstream and high-end client processors points to the new products, like Core i5 and Athlon II, that Intel and AMD were shipping into the market for the holiday buying season in the fourth quarter. What is interesting there is that consumers were there to buy systems based on them and that OEMs were investing in them for future builds. At the same time, the sequential rise in server processors indicates that server OEMs are starting to see corporations come off the sidelines,” said Mr. Rau.
AMD Gains Market Share
In Q4 2009, Intel earned 80.5% unit market share, a loss of 0.6%, while AMD earned 19.4%, a gain of 0.7%, and Via Technologies earned 0.2%. In the full year 2009, Intel earned 79.7% unit market share, a loss of 0.7%, AMD earned 20.1%, a gain of 0.8%, and Via Technologies earned 0.3%. It is noteworthy that AMD posted market share gain for the first time in many quarters.
By form-factor, the rankings for Q4 2009 were as follows:
- In the desktop PC chip segment, Intel earned 71.1%, a loss of 1.1%, and AMD got 28.6%, a sequential decrease of 1.2%. Via Technologies commanded 0.3% of desktop PC processor market.
- Intel controlled 87.3% unit share in the mobile PC processor market segment, a decline of 0.7%, AMD finished with 12.7%, an increase of 0.7%, whereas Via earned 0.1%, down 0.1% from the prior quarter.
- In the PC server/workstation processor segment, Intel finished with 89.8% market share, a drop of 0.6% and AMD’s share got a 0.6% boost to 10.2%.
The rankings for the whole 2009 looked as follows:
- In the desktop PC processor segment, Intel controlled 71.0%, a loss of 2.5%, AMD earned 28.8%, a gain of 2.3%, and Via Technologies earned 0.3%, a gain of 0.1%.
- Intel commanded 86.8% share in the mobile PC processor segment, a loss of 0.3%, AMD finished with 12.8%, a gain of 0.8%, and Via Technologies earned 0.3%, a loss of 0.5%.
- In the PC server/workstation processor segment, Intel finished with 89.9% market share, a gain of 3.2% and AMD earned 10.1%, a loss of 3.2%.
Microprocessor Market to Grow 15.1% in 2010
IDC has raised its forecast for growth in PC processor unit shipments to 15.1% compared to 2009.
"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. Combined with healthy consumer spending, the resumption of corporation spending will lead to a healthy 2010," said Mr. Rau.