It was 40 years ago today when Intel introduced what it claims is the world's first commercially available microprocessor, the Intel 4004. That moment sparked the start of the digital revolution, Intel says, and the rest is history. Fast forward to today and microprocessors are all over the place, from smartphones to digital cameras, to media players and even refrigerators.
The worldwide PC microprocessor market grew its revenues 12.2 percent to $10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2011, and was up 16.1 percent compared to one year prior, according to the latest figures from the International Data Corporation (IDC). The jump in revenue is partially the result of a rise in the average selling price (ASP) OEMs fork over for computer chips.
When it comes to microprocessors, Intel’s the 800 lb. gorilla stomping around the room. AMD and ARM offer interesting products and alternatives, but the fact of the matter is that most chips simply carry the Intel stamp. A new report says that if anything, Intel’s slice of the revenue pie has only grown over the past year.
The Flat Earth Society has it all wrong, it's not the third rock from the Sun that is flat, but microprocessor chip sales. That's the conclusion reached by the International Data Corporation (IDC), a market research firm tasked with figuring such things out. According to IDC, worldwide PC processor shipments in the second quarter of 2011 dipped 2.9 percent compared to the first quarter and were downright flat compared to the same quarter one year ago, rising a measly 0.6 percent.
IHS iSuppli on Thursday published a report about the state of the global microprocessor business in the first quarter. For all you sticklers for terseness, the entire report can be summed up in these five words: Intel can do no wrong! It’s not that it never puts a foot wrong, but its stature allows it to get away with it even when it does. During the first quarter, the world’s premier chip maker successfully overcame a massive chipset recall to further extend its lead over rival AMD. Hit the jump for more.
Worldwide PC processor shipments fell flat year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2010, yet still managed double digit growth for the full year, according to the latest figures from International Data Corporation (IDC). The research firm reports that microprocessor shipments grew 17.1 percent for the full year compared to 2009, driving revenue up 26.7 percent to $36.3 billion. It did this despite a lethargic fourth quarter that barely budged compared to both 3Q10 (0.04 percent quarter-over-quarter) and to 4Q09 (-.21 percent year-over-year).
Market research firm iSuppli declared a "microprocessor stalemate" between Intel and AMD, neither of which was able to wrestle any significant share from the other in the third quarter.
Intel's global microprocessor share dropped ever-so-slightly from 80.4 percent in the second quarter to 80.1 percent in the third, while AMD went from 11.5 percent to 11.3 percent. In other words, both chip makers barely budged.
"In reality, the share changes in the third quarter from the two incumbents were extremely small and not at all significant," said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms at iSuppli. "What is significant, however, is that neither company has been able to take any sizable share away from the other. One reason is that each company offers well-matched competitive product portfolios. Another reason is that end markets are not undergoing significant changes in market share of product lineup that would impact microprocessor market share."
AMD fans may want to delcare a tiny victory for the third quarter after having dropped its share 0.1 percent less than Intel, while Intel's fan base will point to the fact that AMD's share is down 0.8 percent from 2009, while Intel's is down just 0.1 percent.
Nothing to get excited about either way, though 2011 could be quite a different story.
"There remains a very competitive situation between the two dominant suppliers," Wilkins added. "In particular, we look forward to seeing the effect that AMD's forthcoming Fusion products might have on the share situation for these two mega-players."
AMD has bumped up it’s line of desktop microprocessors with the introduction of a new set of Athlon II processors, including the first Athlon triple-cores. Triple-core processors, obviously, fill the gap between dual-core and quad-core versions, and, according to Nathan Brookwood of the market research firm Insight 64, offer more power than dual-cores while costing less than quad-cores, making them attractive choices for desktop makers.
The new processors include Athlon II X2s in 2.7GHz and 2.8 GHz, four Athlon II X3s ranging from 2.2 GHz up to 2.9 GHz, and Athlon II X4s at 2.2 GHz and 2.3 GHz. All of the processors pull 45 watts, except for the 2.7 GHz and 2.9 GHz X3s which draw 95 watts. All of the new Athlon IIs are manufactured using 45-nanometer dies.
AMD claims the 2.8 GHz X2 will perform up to 70 percent better on media and entertainment benchmarks than an Intel Core 2 Duo E7400, while the 2.9 GHz X3 shows a 75 percent performance jump over the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500. Overall, AMD says these new processors will offer “superior competitive value for mainstream consumers in productivity, HD video, and 3D gaming.”
The sharp and steady decline in PC chip shipments in recent times can be likened to a tailspin. Market research firm IDC has published its appraisal of PC chip shipments in the first quarter of 2009. PC chip shipments are still in a nosedive per IDC, though the pace of their descent has decreased considerably.
Intel shipped 33 percent less Atom processors during the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. The decline in Atom shipments isn’t entirely surprising as suppliers have amassed a huge stockpile of Atom processors.
The first quarter bought some relief for AMD as its market share improved by 4.6% to reach 22.3 percent. AMD improved its standing in both the PC and mobile markets at the expense of Intel, which had its market share trimmed down to 77.3 percent from 82 percent in the previous quarter.