SAN FRANCISCO—Qualcomm Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. each passed Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in microprocessor sales in 2012, thanks to a slowdown in PC sales coupled with strong growth in smartphone and media tablet sales, according to market research firm IC Insights Inc.
The displacement of AMD—which had been the No. 2 supplier of MPUs behind Intel Corp. since the 1990s—underscores the disruption caused by the rise of smartphones and tablets at the expense of PCs. The new top 10 MPU list shows most leading suppliers of mobile processors based on ARM technology moving higher in the ranking while PC-dependent x86 MPU companies—Intel and AMD—continued to lose marketshare in 2012.
Among the top 10 MPU suppliers, only top-ranked Intel and fourth-place AMD sell processors built with x86 microarchitectures for standard notebook and desktop PCs running Windows operating system software from Microsoft. The remaining top 10 suppliers develop and sell mobile MPUs with RISC processor cores licensed from ARM.
Qualcomm, which dominates to the baseband IC market, has largely been successful in selling its Snapdragon applications processors. Samung sells its own ARM-based processors and is also the sole foundry for Apple Inc.'s Ax series of processors for its iPhones and iPads.
Sales of the ARM-based Snapdragon SoCs increased 28 percent in 2012 to $5.3 billion, increasing Qualcomm's MPU marketshare to 9.4 percent, IC Insights said. Samsung—including Apple’s MPU foundry business—moved to third place in the 2012 ranking from fourth in 2011 with a 78 percent increase in MPU sales, IC Insights said. About 83 percent of Samsung’s $4.7 billion in MPU revenues in 2012 came from Apple’s processors, IC Insights said.
How the categorization is done may drastically change the picture.
Do we look at 32 bit and 64 bits only? Or we are looking at the whole spectrum.
How do we define supplier? Does supplier require to be able to fabricate? Does supplier require to supply to another company other than itself?
Nonetheless, the trend may give us an insight that the age of x86 domination is fading.
That's a good question! When TSMC ramps up production of Apple processors we will need to look at what makes the most sense. Do you call Apple a "supplier" of MPUs (supplying to itself?) or do you put those sales under a pure-play foundry such as TSMC and list TSMC as an MPU supplier? One thing for certain, these Apple MPU sales will need to go to TSMC or Apple or they won't be counted at all, and that really isn't an option.
Hi Bill, Apple is designing their own MPU now for some time, how will you handle when they start using tsmc instead of samsung?
Similarly other folks like Nvidia who are starting to directly sell products (shield w/ tegra4), will these parts be calculated back to TSMC?
When TSMC and Samsung catch intel in terms of process technology, due in part to intel slowing, then it becomes a capacity and yield game (read: unit price).
Intel is building factories at amazing pace all of a sudden, and I can guess this is why. But I bet Samsung and TSMC can build bigger/ faster...and not upset their shareholders in the process.
and MPU market gets more interesting
My friend at Intel just passed on info that new
CEO did a major re-organization this week
Problem is 22nm Silver mount is very late and uncompetitive and has no meaningful Smartphone design wins.
14 technology is also very late and design will not ship on time and could be 1 year late
After toying with the idea of listing Apple separately, the bottom line is that Apple is not an MPU supplier, they are an end user. As you mention, all of the fabless suppliers re-sell their MPUs and are correctly included as suppliers.
The Samsung/Apple case is an example of why not all foundry sales should be excluded when attempting to create marketshare data. With most of Samsung's sales sold to Apple, since Apple does not re-sell these devices, counting these foundry sales as Samsung MPU sales does not introduce double counting.
It should be noted that of the $32 billion in 2012 pure-play foundry sales from TSMC, GF, UMC, etc., only $200 million was to system houses like Apple.
Althought I could argue for same reason, AMD should not be listed on this one, but also complicated since AMD doesn't manufacture (ie GF, TSMC), but also acts as reseller to customer other than themself.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.