Ultraportables and devices like the Apple iPad are expected to drive widespread adoption of graphics-enabled microprocessors, iSuppli said in a new report. Intel and AMD are positioned to benefit.
Fueled by strong netbook sales and form-factor-pushing devices like
the Apple iPad, worldwide shipments of graphics-enabled microprocessors
are expected to follow a straight path upward, iSuppli reported Aug.
While 2010 will see such microprocessors ship in approximately one
out of three notebook PCs, by 2014 that figure is expected to reach
four out of five.
"The booming popularity of products like ultraportable notebooks and
[Apple's] iPad has put the spotlight on products with small and
innovative form factors," Matthew Wilkins, an iSuppli principal
analyst, said in a statement. "To develop such products, PC makers are
adopting highly integrated semiconductor solutions that use less power
and generate less heat, thus allowing smaller form factors. By
integrating functions that normally would be implemented in a separate
graphics chip, graphics-enabled microprocessors play a key role in
aiding this effort."
iSuppli reports that ultraportable PCs are currently the
fastest-growing segment of the notebook market, with global shipments
expected to double between 2010 and 2014. By the latter date,
graphics-enabled chip penetration in such devices is expected to reach
90 percent, according to the report.
The Apple iPad tablet uses Apple's A4 microprocessor - an example,
says iSuppli, of a "highly integrated silicon solution" being used to
achieve a new and innovative form factor. The firm notes that the
iPad's highly successful Human Machine Interface design - which
it pointed out in its teardown of the iPad, reverses the paradigm of
traditional notebook PC design, which is more motherboard-centric
is largely made possible by the device's microprocessor. The A4, states
the report, "enabled the design of a system with a minimal space and
cost dedicated to core electronics."
Which companies will benefit most from the adotpion of chips with
integrated graphics? According to iSuppli, Intel has cornered the
market with its iCore I Series products, which feature HD on-chip
graphics. Intel at one time planned to release its own discrete
graphics technology, dubbed "Larrabee," but earlier this year
discontinued that project. Company officials said they instead will
focus on increasing the graphics capabilities in their CPUs.
Additionally, iSuppli expects that Intel competitor Advanced Micro
Devices will also , with its upcoming Fusion APUs (Accelerated
Processing Units), which bring computing and graphics technologies onto
a single die. The first of these APUs, dubbed "Llano" and "Ontario,"
are due out in the first half of 2011, according to AMD officials.
The bad news?
"Rising sales of these microprocessors is expected to have a
negative impact on sales of standalone graphics chips," states the
report, "with the worldwide market for discrete graphics devices for
PCs declining to shipments of 62 million in 2014, down from 73 million
That could hit embattled GPU-maker Nvidia hard. According to a Jon
Peddie Research report July 30, Intel kept the top spot of the graphics
market in the second quarter, while AMD saw signficant gains. During
the same period, Nvidia saw its business decline in practically every
market segment, and company officials in July issued a warning about
weak second-quarter earnings.
iSuppli expects the penetration of microprocessors with integrated
graphics to reach 50 percent of the worldwide PC market in 2011 and to
climb to 65 percent in 2011 and 76.1 percent in 2013, before reaching
approximately 83 percent of the market in 2014.