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.