I believe that the beginning of this "situation" starts with AMD. Once it pulled out of WSTS, it left Intel "exposed" in the database, especially for MPUs. With almost the entire MPU segment comprised of Intel and AMD, without AMD, the WSTS data would essentially be a reflection of Intel's exact MPU sales data, including monthly unit volume shipments and average selling prices (ASPs). I believe this is where the heart of the matter lies, not so much with the monthly MPU sales data in dollars, since Intel reports its MPU sales on a quarterly basis, but with the unit volume and ASP detail! Typically, companies are not too concerned with the public knowing its sales revenue but are much less open when it comes to the public knowing its unit volume shipments, and as a result, its ASP information.
A similar situation happened within WSTS in 2004. With Xilinx and Altera holding greater than 90% of the marketshare for PLDs, WSTS merged the PLD category with the standard cell category. The result of this was to "mask" the details of PLD unit volume shipments and ASPs (as well as masking the standard cell shipment details). While the PLD and standard cell data is now less precise that it was previously, at least it is still included in the database.
Going further back in time, it was 1998 when WSTS stopped reporting the bookings (i.e., orders) for semiconductors. I believe that Intel was one of the primary movers behind this change as well as it became uncomfortable with its monthly orders for MPUs being so public, especially when it was oftentimes used by stock analysts to give a favorable or unfavorable rating to a company.
I believe that WSTS needs to approach Intel and AMD to see if something can be worked out. Maybe the two companies could report into WSTS on a quarterly basis. Another option may be to offer to merge the application processor segment, which is now included as part of the special purpose logic category, with the MPU segment. Thus, similar to what happened with merging the standard cell and PLD category, the unit volume and ASP data for MPUs would not be so attributable to Intel. Once again, a loss of detail would occur but the WSTS database would at least still be able to include the data in the total.
I do hope something can be worked out in order to keep the integrity of the WSTS data and comparisons with historical trends intact.
Bill McClean is president of market research firm IC Insights Inc. and a veteran of the semiconductor industry for more than 30 years.