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Worldwide Microprocessor Demand Increased in 2011

Worldwide PC microprocessor revenue increased 13.2 percent to more than $41 billion in 2011 as unit shipments and average prices rose, according to researcher international Data Corporation (IDC).

Global processor revenue was buoyed by strong fourth-quarter demand as revenue increased 14.2 percent to $10.9 billion, compared to the fourth quarter of 2010, IDC reported.

One reason for robust revenue growth was an increase in prices in 2011. "The average selling price that OEMs pay for PC microprocessors rose more than 9 percent in 2011, making 2011 the second consecutive year of notable price increases," said Shane Rau, director of semiconductors: personal computing research at IDC. Average prices are at the highest level since 2007, according to IDC.

Microprocessor unit shipments grew 3.6 percent in 2011 compared to 2010. By form factor, mobile PC processor unit shipments increased 3.9 percent in 2011, while x86 server processor unit shipments grew 9 percent and desktop processor unit shipments rose 2.7 percent, according to IDC. Revenue will rise 7 percent to $44 billion.

Intel, the world's largest semiconductor company, lost microprocessor market share in 2011. Intel's rival AMD gained 0.7 percent market share now holds 19.7 percent of the processor market. VIA Technologies lost 0.1 percent market share and now holds 0.2 percent the worldwide microprocessor market, according to the researcher.

IDC forecasts that PC unit shipments should rise 5.1 percent in 2012.

The researcher noted that since the end of 2011, and so far through the first quarter of 2012, the hard disk drive (HDD) shortage that caused PC OEMs to reduce advanced purchases of microprocessors has improved. Severe flooding in Thailand last October resulted in the shutdown of a lot of HDD production, resulting in a shortage.

IDC reported that the HDD shortage will not be a significant factor in PC shipments in the second quarter of this year. Combined with improving job growth in the United States and stabilization of debt issues in Europe, IDC noted that it may raise its growth rate forecast modestly in the second quarter.