Intel dominates microprocessor revenue, AMD falls behind SoC makers

The microprocessor market is changing, and so are the ways analysts measure it. For the first time, market research firm IC Insights has included smartphone and tablet SoCs in its microprocessor revenue tallies. Those processors were formerly counted as part of separate markets, and now that they're rubbing elbows with their PC counterparts, they're shaking up the standings. Here are the revenue totals for the top ten microprocessor producers last year.

Company 2011 ($M) 2012 ($M) Change Market share
Intel 37,435 36,892 -1% 65.3%
Qualcomm 4,152 5,322 28% 9.4%
Samsung/Apple 2,614 4,664 78% 8.2%
AMD 4,552 3,605 -21% 6.4%
Freescale 1,210 1,070 -12% 1.9%
Nvidia 591 764 29% 1.4%
TI 510 565 11% 1.0%
ST-Ericsson 660 540 -18% 1.0%
Broadcom 295 345 17% 0.6%
Mediatek 280 325 16% 0.6%

Intel and AMD are the only ones on the list with x86-compatible CPUs; the rest of the firms sell ARM-based chips. Impressively, Intel's 2012 microprocessor revenue was several times that of its closest competitor. Heck, it was more than double the rest of the top ten combined.

AMD's $3.6 billion was only good enough to put it in fourth place behind Qualcomm and Samsung. Apple's custom SoC orders were included in Samsung's total, and they made up about 83% of the firm's microprocessor revenue last year. Thanks largely to strong iDevice sales, Samsung enjoyed much higher year-over-year revenue growth than anyone else on the list.

Qualcomm and Nvidia also experienced healthy revenue growth. However, Intel and AMD saw their microprocessor revenues decline. Intel's dropped only 1%, but AMD's fell a more substantial 21%. It will be interesting to see how new tablet-focused processors affect the numbers for Intel and AMD in 2013. Sales of those chips will surely contribute to microprocessor shipments, but revenues could still fall due to lower average selling prices. SoCs are cheaper than the traditional desktop and notebook processors they're challenging.

According to IC Insights, the microprocessor market was worth $56.5 billion as a whole last year. That works out to a year-over-year increase of only 2%, which is somewhat disappointing considering the 19% jump from 2010-2011. IC Insights expects the market to grow 10% in 2013, though. By 2017, the microprocessor sales are projected to generate just under $100 billion per year.

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