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Chip shipments jump over last year

Shipments of microprocessors decline slightly in the first quarter compared with the previous quarter but rise 39 percent over a year ago, according to IDC.

Global shipments of microprocessors for the first quarter of the year grew by 39 percent over the same quarter in 2009, paving the way for a market recovery, according to findings from IDC released Thursday.

Though first-quarter shipments actually declined 5.6 percent from the previous quarter, a drop from the fourth to the first quarter is typical of seasonal trends in this industry, said IDC. And the 5.6 percent fall was smaller than usual.

"PC processor shipments typically decline around 7 to 8 percent going from fourth quarter to first quarter," Shane Rau, director of Semiconductors for Personal Computing research at IDC, said in a statement. "A decline of 5.6 percent is modest and wouldn't mean much by itself. However, after the huge rise in shipments we saw in the fourth quarter, it adds more credibility to market recovery and that the PC industry anticipates improvement in PC end demand in 2010."

Thanks to the healthy growth in shipments, first-quarter sales for the chip industry fell only 2 percent compared with the fourth quarter and rose 40.4 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Among different types of computers, sales of processors for mobile PCs fell 6.3 percent from the previous quarter, desktop processors dropped by 5.1 percent, and server processors declined by 1.4 percent.

Among the major chip players for the first quarter, Intel's market share inched up half a percentage point to 81 percent, while AMD's dropped by 0.6 of a percentage point to 18.8 percent. In third place, Via Technologies grabbed a 0.2 percent slice of the market.

For the coming year, IDC is eyeing worldwide PC processor unit growth of 15.1 percent. But that percentage may turn out higher thanks to the first-quarter results, low inventories, and solid outlooks from semiconductor vendors and PC makers.

"IDC will be watching 2Q10 very closely," Rau said. "Specifically, we'll be watching for the expected improvement in corporate IT spending and talking to PC component suppliers to make sure that, after a long period of anemic capital expenditures, they believe end demand is solid and are bringing new capacity online."