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Tablet, cell phone processors to record $61.0B in 2013

Posted: 15 Aug 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IC Insights? microprocessor? notebook PCs? Intel? tablets?

According to a new forecast by IC Insights, worldwide microprocessor sales are on pace to reach a record-high $61.0 billion in 2013 mostly due to strong demand for tablet computers and cell phones that connect to the Internet. However, the ongoing slump in standard personal computers-including notebook PCs will once again dragging down overall MPU growth this year. The new forecast also expects the total microprocessor sales to increase by 8 per cent in 2013 after rising just 2 per cent in 2012.

IC Insights' mid-year forecast trims the market share of x86 microprocessors primarily sold by Intel and rival Advanced Micro Devices for PCs and servers to 56 per cent of total MPU sales in 2013 compared to the previous estimate of 58 per cent. Figure 1 shows embedded microprocessors are now expected to account for 11 per cent of MPU sales in 2013 (versus 9 per cent previously), while tablet processors are projected to be 6 per cent of the total (compared to 5 per cent in the original January forecast). The new forecast keeps cell phone application processors at 26 per cent of total MPU sales in 2013 but lowers the market share of non-x86 central processing units (CPUs) in computers outside of tablets to 1 per cent (from 2 per cent previously).

2013 MPU Sales

Figure 1: 2013 MPU Sales by Applications (Fcst, $61.0B)
Source: IC Insights.

The proliferation of multimedia cell phones and the surge in popularity of touch-screen tablet computers are fueling strong double-digit growth rates of MPU sales and unit shipments in these two systems categories. The vast majority of these systems are built with mobile processors based on 32bit CPU architectures licens ('licence' when noun)ed from ARM in the U.K. Many MPU suppliers serve smartphone and tablet applications with the same processor platform design. The falloff in standard PC shipments is a major problem for Intel and AMD since they have supplied more than 95 per cent of the x86-based MPUs used in personal computers since the 1980s.

The new mid-year forecast raises tablet processor sales in 2013 to nearly $3.5 billion, which is a 54 per cent increase from $2.3 billion in 2012. Cell Phone application processor sales are now expected to grow 30 per cent in 2013 to $16.1 billion from $12.4 billion in 2012. At the start of this year, sales of mobile processors in tablet computers and cell phones were forecast to grow 50 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively. Stronger unit shipment growth in mobile processors has lifted the revenue forecast in these MPU market segments.

Meanwhile, the larger market segment of MPUs used in PCs, servers, and embedded-microprocessor applications continues to contract, albeit at a slower rate than in 2012. The mid-year forecast shows sales of MPUs in PCs, servers, large computers, and embedded applications slipping by 1 per cent to $41.4 billion in 2013 from $41.9 billion in 2012, when revenues dropped 6 per cent. This large MPU market segment was previously forecast to rebound with sales increasing 5 per cent, but the anticipated bounce back has been blocked by weak shipments of standard PCs, which IC Insights believes will fall by 5 per cent in 2013 to 327 million systems.

While the mid-year outlook lowers total MPU revenues in 2013, it slightly increases the growth in microprocessor unit shipments to 10 per cent this year from a projection of 9 per cent in the January forecast. Total MPU shipments are now expected to reach 2.15 billion devices in 2013, with tablet processors growing 62 per cent to 190 million units and cell phone application processors increasing 11 per cent to 1.50 billion this year.

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