IDC: Intel Notebook Processors Propel Growth in Q2

Intel continued to dominate the worldwide x86 processor market in the second quarter of 2008 with sales and shipments of notebook processors helping to take share away from AMD. Overall, processor shipments were up but revenue was down as prices for desktops and laptops continue to fall, according to IDC.

Intel controlled about 80 percent of the worldwide x86 processor market in the second quarter of 2008, with notebook sales increasing the chip giant's lead over Advanced Micro Devices, according to an Aug. 15 report from IDC.

Overall, worldwide shipments of PC and server x86 processors increased 16.1 percent in the second quarter of 2008 compared with the same time period in 2007. Chip shipments also increased 3.1 percent compared with the first quarter of 2008.

However, revenue from x86 processors decreased 4.5 percent to $7.7 billion for the second quarter. This trend of robust processor shipments but declining revenues shows that prices for desktop and notebooks continue to fall as PC vendors look to offer business users and consumers more competitive prices. The declining processor revenues also reflect a sluggish U.S. economy and weak dollar.

"One apparent place where the U.S. economy is having an effect is that the lower exchange rate of the U.S. dollar means an effective price cut for value-conscious PC buyers in emerging regions," Shane Rau, an analyst with IDC, wrote in an e-mail.

For 2008, IDC is calling for worldwide PC processor revenue to grow 7.5 percent to $32.8 billion.

For the quarter, Intel controlled 79.7 percent of all worldwide x86 processor shipments, compared with its 76.6 percent market share in the second quarter of 2007. AMD watched its year-over-year market share slip from 23.1 percent to 19.7 percent. Those numbers continue to reflect the difficulties AMD had in bringing its quad-core Opteron and Phenom chips to the market in late 2007 and earlier 2008.

Via Technologies, which makes low-power x86 chips for notebooks, represented less than 1 percent of the worldwide processor market, according to IDC.

It should not be very surprising that mobile processors helped propel Intel during the quarter. Even with the delayed release of its Centrino 2 platform, Intel claimed a staggering 86.5 percent of the mobile chip market, followed by AMD's 12.6 percent share.

AMD is hoping that its new notebook platform, formerly called "Puma," will help it capture a bigger share of the consumer laptop market as well as the small and midsize business market.

One surprise is that Intel's shipments of Atom processors for low-cost notebooks and desktops did not seem to have much of an effect on Intel's market share. The release of new low-power processors from Via also did not have a noticeable impact, according to the IDC report. This seems to contrast with other recent studies.

"I estimate that Atom for netbooks represented less than 5 percent of Intel's mobile PC processor shipments in 2Q08," Rau wrote. "Atom for [low-cost desktops] just started shipping in [the second quarter of 2008]. Via shipments in the mobile PC area are entirely C7-M and [have] yet to include any shipments from their new Nano line."

In the server segment, Intel held 86.2 percent of the market and AMD gained back some share and held 13.8 percent of the market. These numbers probably reflect the support AMD finally received from OEMs and customers after the new version of the quad-core Opteron was released earlier in 2008.

On the desktop side, Intel held 73.3 percent of the market compared with AMD's 26.4 percent.