Chip shipments on the rise as AMD makes gains

AMD gained some ground on Intel in the fourth quarter, as the chip market revived after the effects of the recession
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

AMD pulled back market share from Intel in the fourth quarter, as the PC chip market got back on track after the economic downturn, according to IDC.

In a report released on Monday, the research firm said worldwide PC processor shipments grew 31.3 percent in the last quarter of 2009, compared with the same quarter the previous year. For all of 2009, shipments rose by 2.5 percent year-on-year, though revenue declined 7.1 percent to $28.6bn (£18bn).

"Compared to [Q4 2008], the huge rise in shipments indicates that the market has put the recession behind it," said Shane Rau, director of research for personal computing semiconductors at IDC, in a statement. "[The comparison indicates] that the PC industry anticipates improvement in PC end demand in 2010."

Intel had 80.5 percent of the market in the fourth quarter, down 0.6 percent over the previous quarter, according to the research firm. Meanwhile AMD's share rose 0.7 percent, to 19.4 percent of sales, and third-place Via held 0.2 percent.

AMD also advanced in share for the full year 2009, showing a rise of 0.8 percent to hold 20.1 percent of the market, compared with the previous year. Intel took 79.7 percent of the market, down 0.7 percent, while Via had 0.3 percent of sales.

The pattern was similar across the mobile, PC server/workstation and desktop PC processor segments. In mobile PC chips, where Intel has the Atom for netbooks, the company accounted for 87.3 percent of sales in the fourth quarter, down 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter. AMD accounted for 12.7 percent, up 0.8 percent.

In server/workstation processors, Intel shipments dropped 0.6 percent to 89.8 percent in the same period, while AMD gained 0.6 percent to finish with 10.2 percent share.

In desktop PC chips, Intel's fourth-quarter share fell 1.1 percent to 71.1 percent, and AMD's rose 1.2 percent to 28.6 percent.

On Thursday, AMD reported fourth-quarter revenue of $1.65bn, up 18 percent on the previous quarter and up 42 percent year-on-year. It also declared its first profit in more than three years. In its earnings the week before, Intel delivered stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings, and outlined a promising outlook for the next three months.

In the market overall, mobile PC chip shipments grew 11.7 percent quarter-on-quarter, IDC said. Growth in x86 server chip sales was 14.1 percent, and desktop chip shipments increased 4.8 percent.

IDC noted that in the fourth quarter, mainstream and high-performance products rose as a proportion of all shipments. That led to a 6.7 percent rise in the average selling price for chips overall, compared with the third quarter. This shift is another indication that consumers and corporate buyers becoming more willing to spend a higher amount on computing products, according to the research firm.

"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," Rau said. "What's interesting there is that consumers were there to buy systems based on them, and that OEMs were investing in them for future builds."

IDC said it expects 2010 unit shipments for PC chips to grow 15.1 percent, compared with 2009.

It also anticipates that corporations will qualify new client and server platforms and increase their IT spending in the second half of the year, Rau said. "Combined with healthy consumer spending, the resumption of corporation spending will lead to a healthy 2010," he stated.

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