Quad-core microprocessors headed to notebook PCs

At least half of all notebook PCs are expected to boast quad-core microprocessors by 2015 – up from just 9% in 2011.

The deployment of six-core microprocessors is also expected to jump, as 18% of notebooks (58.9 million units) are slated to ship with the chips in 2015.

“The cornerstone of PC performance, the microprocessor, is continuing to evolve to provide new levels of performance to the PC market. For decades, the main focus for increasing microprocessor performance was in the area of clock speed, with suppliers battling to offer parts with the most megahertz or gigahertz,” explained IHS principal analyst Matthew Wilkins.

“However, the competition now has shifted to the battle over cores, with suppliers racing to offer parts that boost performance by providing greater parallelism. The battle now has moved from the dual-core segment into the quad-core area—and next will spread to the six-core realm.”

According to Wilkins, the rise of multi-core microprocessors illustrates the “ongoing march” of technology in the PC market, despite the “incredible rise” in consumer sales of lower-performance media tablets.

“One such evolution is the recently introduced graphics-enabled microprocessor, which places the graphics processor actually on the processor die. While in their early stages today, such microprocessors will be found in excess of 90% of notebooks sold in 2015.

“These chips deliver improved power management of the on-chip graphics unit, although in terms of graphics performance, are [currently] not able to outperform standalone graphics processing units used in discrete graphics cards,” he added.