Growth at a cost
The worldwide microprocessor market grew by 23 percent in Q3, compared to the previous quarter, establishing and all-time record for shipments in a single quarter, according to new research from IDC.
As you would expect, the driver of this growth was the mobile PC sector, with netbooks containing Intel's Atom CPU a major factor. As a direct consequence of this - with the average selling price of the Atom being well below ‘full-fat' CPU - revenue only grew by 14 percent.
Shane Rau, director of semiconductors: personal computing research at IDC, said: "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%.
"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."
In terms of vendor market share, Intel stole a couple of points from AMD thanks in part to its especially strong position in the mobile market - something AMD is trying to address with its Vision strategy. Having said that, Intel stole share from AMD in the desktop and server sectors too, and now has an overall market share of 81.1 percent compared to AMD's 18.7 and Via's 0.2.
Looking to the future, Rau said: "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 U.S. market is still hamstrung by housing foreclosures and rising job losses."