Processor shipments stay flat in Q4

Abstract image of a glowing central processing unit on a blue circuit board

Global shipments of microprocessors remained flat throughout the fourth quarter of 2010, according to IDC.

The analyst firm released has research claiming shipments had fallen 0.04 per cent over the three month period and 0.21 per cent when compared to the same quarter in 2009.

However, the news wasn't all glum as overall shipments for the year were up by 17.1 per cent and revenue rose 26.7 per cent to $36.3 billion.

"The fourth quarter was weak and out of sync with normal seasonal patterns in terms of unit shipments," said Shane Rau, director of semiconductors in IDC's personal computing research arm.

"The first half of the year turned out to be the better half of the year."

Rau claimed the move towards "high performance" mobile processors was partly responsible for the positive overall results, pushing prices up when compared to the lower-powered Atom processors of previous years.

The year saw mobile processor shipments growing by 26.2 per cent but server processors also raked it home with growth in sales of 28.1 per cent.

Yet, desktop processors only grew at a more conservative 6.2 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, Intel remained top dog and held on to 80.8 per cent of market share in the fourth quarter equating to a small rise of 0.4 per cent. However, the mini jump in share was taken from AMD, which fell slightly to 19.9 per cent.

For the full year 2010, Intel gained 1.1 per cent market share to hold 80.7 per cent, whereas AMD lost 1.1 per cent, amounting to 19 per cent.

The future looks bright for processors though as IDC predicted a rise in overall microprocessor shipments of 10.1 per cent. But, the analysts believed this was only a moderate forecast.

"Corporate spending continues to drive spending on server platforms and commercial clients," said Rau.

"However, the affects of emerging devices, like media tablets, and economic concerns in Europe and the US, lead us to be conservative in our overall outlook."

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.