Start of an era
Market researchers think long and hard before adjusting the methodology of their studies; doing so is presumably a bit of a hassle. For example IDC waited several quarters after the first netbooks appeared before incorporating them into its PC studies. So it's fair to view such a move as a formal endorsement.
In an otherwise uneventful PC chip report, IDC announced it has started forecasting PC processor shipments by architecture, meaning it now considers ARM-based chips to qualify for the PC category. This allowed IDC to make a bold prediction: that by 2015 over 13 percent of PC processors will be based on ARM architecture.
That's all IDC had to say about ARM, and there's clearly a bit of headline-seeking in making such an announcement, but it's significant nonetheless. We presume a major market researcher wouldn't stick its neck out in such a fashion unless it was reasonably confident of its prediction. IDC has extrapolated what it's seeing in the mobile chip market, combined with Microsoft's announcement that the next version of Windows will support ARM, and come to this conclusion.
Back in the present, the worldwide PC chip market grew 1.6 percent sequentially and 7.4 percent year-on-year in Q1. The share between Intel and AMD remained pretty stable, although AMD will be concerned by a small loss of notebook chip share, as that's its primary target. IDC slightly raised its forecast for the overall market in 2011 to 10.3 percent growth.
"The first quarter, which is usually weak, was strong in terms of unit shipments, but surely benefitted from an extra calendar week," said Shane Rau, IDC director. "Both Intel and AMD grew unit shipments sequentially, which indicates some decent strength in their new platforms. Due to the first full quarter shipping their Sandy Bridge and Fusion microprocessors with integrated graphics processors (IGP), processors with IGP grew to slightly over 50 percent of market shipments for the first time.
"Generally, the demand environment for the second half of this year looks decent. The earthquake and tsunami had minor effects on the PC supply chain. However, the real near-to-mid term concern there is the effect on Japanese demand for PCs and so microprocessors."