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IDC: Intel Atom lifts processor shipments

Worldwide PC microprocessor shipments reach record levels in the third quarter, but future is "murky," says market researcher IDC.

Intel's Atom processor lifted processor shipments in the third quarter but the future for overall processor shipments is uncertain, IDC said.

Intel's Atom processor lifted shipments in the third quarter, IDC said.

Worldwide PC microprocessor shipments in the third calendar quarter of 2008 reached record levels again, according to market researcher IDC. However, the outlook for the processor market in the fourth quarter and 2009 is "very murky," said Shane Rau, director of Semiconductors: Personal Computing research at IDC, in a statement.

Worldwide PC processor unit shipments grew 14 percent quarter over quarter and 15.8 percent year over year, while market revenue grew 7.6 percent from the previous quarter and 4.1 percent compared to a year ago to $8.3 billion.

Intel's new Atom processor for the Netbook market "made a notable difference in the overall market performance," Rau said. Without Atom, unit shipments grew 8.3 percent from the second quarter and 8.7 percent from the same quarter last year.

"Not considering the effects of Atom, the overall market still grew at a decent pace in the third quarter," Rau said. "Intel's and AMD's shipments grew at a rate only slightly slower than typical for a third quarter, and seasonal demand appeared reasonable up until September."

"Up until September" may be the operative phrase, however, as that's when the U.S. financial markets fell sharply. "The worldwide demand environment looks weak, and both Intel and Advanced Micro Devices indicated an uncertain outlook for the market. As a result, IDC is conservative about 2009 and will be lowering its upcoming unit forecast for the year, the report said.

By segment, while the mobile processor segment grew aggressively, the server segment was soft, Rau said.

Third-quarter vendor highlights based on units shipped:

  • Intel claimed an 80.8 percent market share, a gain of 1.1 percent.

  • AMD finished with 18.5 percent, a loss of 1.2 percent.

  • Via Technologies earned a 0.6 percent share.