Intel dominates as Q4 chip shipments slip

Mobile pushes 2010 into 17% growth but shipments stagger in Q4

While 2010 as a whole was a year of growth for the global computer chip market, the fourth quarter took a bit of a hit.

Worldwide PC microprocessor shipments in the last quarter of 2010 slipped, compared with both the third quarter of 2010 and with the fourth quarter of 2009, a report out today from the industry analysis firm IDC noted. Computer chip shipments dropped .04% quarter over quarter, and .21% year over year.

However, 2010 in total showed a 17.1% growth in chip shipments, IDC said. Revenue increased 26.7%, to $36.3 billion.

"The fourth quarter was weak and out of synch with normal seasonal patterns in terms of unit shipments," said Shane Rau, a research director at IDC. "The first half of the year turned out to be the better half of the year."

Rau added that the market's move to mobile computing and high-end computers drove much of the increase in chip shipments last year.

"Looking back at the whole year 2010, it's clear that the ongoing shift to mobile processors, combined with a shift back towards high-performance mobile processors, as opposed to Atom processors for netbooks, drove a significant rise in overall processor average selling prices," he said.

To support that theory, IDC reported that mobile PC processor unit shipments grew 26.2% in 2010, while desktop chip shipments grew only 6.2%.

So who was shipping the most computer chips in the fourth quarter?

IDC said Intel was up and AMD was a bit down.

In the fourth quarter of 2010, Intel grabbed 80.8% of the worldwide market share, which is up 0.4%. And rival AMD was down 0.4%, grabbing 18.9% marketshare, IDC reported.

In the full year of 2010, Intel earned 80.7% global market share, a gain of 1.1%, IDC also reported. In the same period, AMD earned 19%, a loss of 1.1%.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at  @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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