SAN MATEO, USA: Worldwide PC microprocessor shipments in the third calendar quarter of 2009 (3Q09) rose substantially and to all-time record levels for a single quarter, according to new data from IDC.
The data indicates that PC processor unit shipments in 3Q09 rose 23 percent compared to 2Q09, growth that is approximately double the normal growth in unit shipments for the same period. In terms of revenue, the PC processor market grew more than 14 percent quarter over quarter to $7.4 billion.
Looking at market performance by PC form factor, mobile PC processors continue to drive growth. Mobile PC processors, which include Intel's Atom processors designed for mini-notebook PCs (which Intel calls "Netbooks"), increased 35.7 percent in 3Q09 compared to 2Q09. Desktop PC processors grew 11.4 percent quarter over quarter and x86 server processors grew 12.2 percent quarter over quarter.
"The story about 3Q09 leads with Atom processors being sold in mini-notebooks (a.k.a. netbooks) manufactured and sold in China," said Shane Rau, director of Semiconductors: Personal Computing research at IDC.
"While Atom processors led the PC processor market to reach record unit shipments, on the revenue side, their low average selling price led to notable price erosion, more than 7 percent. As a result, while market shipments rose 23 percent compared to 2Q09, market revenue grew less, 14.1 percent compared to 2Q09.
"Most meaningful about 3Q09 is that, since PC processor shipments overall just slightly exceeded shipments in 3Q08—which was itself a record quarter at the time—we know that the processor market is recovering."
3Q09 vendor highlights
In 3Q09, Intel earned 81.1 percent share of the worldwide PC processor market's unit shipments, a share gain of 2.2 percent, while AMD earned 18.7 percent, a loss of 2 percent, and VIA Technologies earned .2 percent.
In 3Q09 by form factor, Intel earned 88 percent share in the mobile PC processor segment, a gain of 1.1 percent, AMD finished with 11.9 percent, a loss of 0.7 percent, and VIA earned 0.2 percent.
In the PC server/workstation processor segment, Intel finished with 90.4 percent market share, a gain of 0.5 percent and AMD earned 9.6 percent, a loss of 0.5 percent.
In the desktop PC processor segment, Intel earned 72.2 percent, a gain of 2 percent and AMD earned 27.4 percent a loss of 1.9 percent. VIA earned 0.3 percent share.
Due to the market's excellent performance and signs early in the fourth quarter that demand for PCs, particularly mobile PCs is healthy, IDC has raised its forecast for PC processor unit shipments in 2009 to well over 300 million units and a unit growth rate of 1.5 percent compared to 2008.
"Compared to where the market was at the beginning of 2009, PC processors have come back remarkably strong," said Rau.
Despite raising its forecast for 2009, IDC is conservative about early 2010. Noted Rau, "While it's clear our concerns about the second half of the year weren't necessary, we're still watching for a 'gotcha', possibly in 1Q10.
The market's growth has been due to shipments of inexpensive Atom processors being sold into markets like China, which is being stimulated by government incentives there. The Chinese market can be very opaque—there are lots of places where inventories can hide. We have to be on the lookout for when China decides it can’t consume more processors. Meanwhile, the US market is still hamstrung by housing foreclosures and rising job losses."