X86 processor market limps towards recovery

The X86 processor market has begun to exhibit telltale signs of recovery from the devastating global economic recession.

According to IDC, worldwide PC microprocessor shipments “rose modestly” in the fourth quarter of 2009 and managed to achieve “all-time record levels” for a single quarter.

When compared to 4Q08, shipments in 4Q09 rose 31.3 percent, while total PC processor unit shipments grew 2.5 percent during the full year of 2009. 

However, revenue still declined 7.1 percent to $28.6 billion.

“Compared to 3Q09, the modest rise in shipments in 4Q09 indicates that the market is returning to normal seasonal patterns,” said IDC spokesperson Shane Rau.

“Compared to 4Q08, the huge rise in shipments indicates that the market has put the recession behind it. Both comparisons indicate that the PC industry anticipates improvement in PC end demand in 2010.”

Rau explained that both mobile PC processors and PC server processors “grew well” during the final quarter of ’09.

Indeed, mobile PC processors – which include Intel’s Atom processors for mininotebooks (or netbooks) – increased 11.7 percent in 4Q09 compared to 3Q09. 

Meanwhile, x86 server processor sales rose 14.1 percent quarter over quarter, with desktop processors jumping 4.8 percent.

“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,” explained Rau.

“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. At the same time, the sequential rise in server processors indicates that server OEMs are starting to see corporations come off the sidelines.”