A decline between a calendar year’s fourth quarter and the next calendar year’s first quarter is typical of seasonal demand patterns but this decline is less than normal. When compared to 1Q09, shipments in 1Q10 rose 39.0%. Total market revenue in 1Q10 fell 2.0% compared to 4Q09 and rose 40.4% compared to 1Q09.

“PC processor shipments typically decline around 7 to 8 percent going from fourth quarter to first quarter,” says Shane Rau director of Semiconductors: Personal Computing research at IDC. “A decline of 5.6% 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.”

Looking at market performance by computer form factor, mobile processors declined 6.3% quarter over quarter, desktop processors declined 5.1% quarter over quarter, and PC server processors declined 1.4% quarter over quarter. The overall market average selling price in 1Q10 rose 4.1% quarter over quarter due to more high-end processors in the total mix compared to 4Q09. Notably, Intel’s low-end Atom processor for mininotebooks (also known as netbooks) represented 20% of Intel’s mobile PC processor mix in 1Q10, which is down from 24% in 4Q09.

“Intel’s new Core processors and AMD’s new Athlon processors are ramping, and at a time when, IDC believes, consumers and corporations will be anticipating a much healthier 2010 and looking for more value than just low price in their PCs,” says Rau. “In terms of the processor, that means more openness to paying for benefits such as good performance and reduced power consumption that serves long battery life.”

In 1Q10, Intel earned 81.0% unit market share, a gain of 0.5%, while AMD earned 18.8%, a loss of 0.6%, and VIA Technologies earned 0.2%. In 1Q10 by form factor, Intel earned 87.8% share in the mobile PC processor segment, a gain of 0.5%. AMD finished the quarter with 12.1%, a loss of 0.6%, and VIA earned 0.1%. In the PC server/workstation processor segment, Intel finished with 90.2% market share, a gain of 0.4% and AMD earned 9.8%, a loss of 0.4%. In the desktop PC processor segment, Intel earned 71.7%, a gain of 0.6%, AMD earned 28.0%, a loss of 0.7%, and VIA earned 0.3%.

IDC’s forecast for worldwide processor unit growth in 2010 is 15.1%. However, the results of 1Q10, low inventories, strong outlooks from computer semiconductor vendors and some original equipment manufacturers, and a generally positive outlook for consumer and corporate IT spending for the rest of the year, are strong signs for additional growth.

“IDC will be watching 2Q10 very closely,” says Rau. “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.”