Intel Atom Drove Record Increase For Q3 Microprocessor Shipments: IDC

jumped a remarkable 23 percent

Revenue for the microprocessor market grew 14 percent sequentially in the third quarter to reach $7.4 billion, according to IDC. Mobile PC processors provided the biggest boost for the quarter with a 35.7 percent increase, according to IDC's numbers. In addition to mobile PCs, desktop processors increased 11.4 percent for the quarter while x86 server processors did even better, growing 12.2 percent.

The research firm attributed much of the quarters' growth to Intel's Atom, an inexpensive model designed for netbooks. Atom also helped Intel increase its share of the microprocessor market 2.2 percent for a whopping 81 percent total. AMD saw its market share fall 2 percent to 18.7 percent, while VIA Technologies earned a scant 0.2 percent of the total market.

But because the third-quarter shipment increase was largely represented by Intel's lower-cost chips, the market experienced "notable price erosion" at 7 percent, according to IDC. Still, the news has led IDC to up its forecast for PC processor shipments this year to well over 300 million units, with a projected 1.5 percent growth rate compared to 2008.

"Most meaningful about 3Q09 is that, since PC processor shipments overall just slightly exceeded shipments in 3Q08 — which was itself a record quarter at the time — we know that the processor market is recovering," said Shane Rau, director of Semiconductors: Personal Computing research at IDC, in a statement.

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Rau stated that while PC processors have "come back remarkably strong," there are reasons to be cautious for 2010. According to IDC's report, much of the demand for Intel's Atom is stemming from China, where spending has been spurred by government stimulus programs; if the government ends the stimulus, it will hurt demand. Meanwhile, IDC said the U.S. market is still suffering from high unemployment and housing foreclosures.

Yet IDC's report on microprocessor shipments comes on the heels of another unexpectedly positive report. Jon Peddie Research announced recently that third quarter shipments of graphics processors jumped 21.2 percent from the previous quarter. Peddie also stated the numbers indicate the holiday season will be "robust for PCs and the industry in general."