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© grzegorz kula dreamstime.com Components | January 23, 2013

Tablet and cellphone processors give MPUs needed boost

Total microprocessor sales to rise 12% in 2013 with slight improvement in PC demand and continued strong growth in mobile SoC processors.
Worldwide microprocessor sales are expected to regain strength in 2013 and grow 12% to $65.3 billion after rising just 5% in 2012 to $58.2 billion due to weakness in standard personal computers and the shaky global economy, according to IC Insights.

The new report’s forecast shows the microprocessor market gaining strength between 2013 and 2016 with modest growth returning in standard PCs made with x86 processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices and much stronger demand continuing for MPUs used in tablet computers and smartphones.

Tablet processor sales are expected to grow 50% in 2013 to nearly $3.4 billion from about $2.3 billion in 2012, when revenues surged by 60%. Cellphone application processor sales are forecast to increase 28% in 2013 to $17.0 billion from $13.3 billion in 2012, when revenues climbed by 41%.

In the larger mainstream MPU group—which includes x86 microprocessors for standard PCs, servers, and a variety of embedded processors, sales are forecast to rise 5% in 2013 to $44.9 billion from $42.6 billion in 2012, when this market category declined by 5%.

This large MPU category will account for 69% of total microprocessor sales in 2013, while tablet processors are expected to represent 5% of the revenues, and cellphone application processors will be 26%, based on the new forecast in The 2013 McClean Report.

EDITOR'S NOTE_ Starting with The 2013 McClean Report, IC Insights is expanding coverage in the microprocessor market category to include system-on-chip (SoC) processors used in tablets and cellphones. Previously, these SoC processors were counted in the special-purpose logic/MPR category of the IC market—with cellphone “application” processors being part of the wireless telecommunications segment and tablet MPUs part of the computer and peripherals product segment.

With tablet and smartphone unit shipments increasing at strong annual rates (80% and 55% in 2012, respectively), microprocessors serving these mobile systems are greatly exceeding growth in total MPUs. IC Insights believes the inclusion of tablet and smartphone processors into the MPU category has become necessary to fully comprehend market and technology trends impacting the important microprocessor segment.


More than 95% of tablet and cellphone SoC processors are now built with microprocessor technology and cores from ARM Ltd. instead of the x86 microarchitecture that dominates desktop computers, portable notebook PCs, and servers.

The 2013 McClean Report shows the market for tablet processors is forecast to increase by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22% between 2012 and 2017, while cellphone application processor sales are projected to rise by a CAGR of 24% and revenues for MPUs in PCs, servers, and embedded applications are expected to grow by an annual rate of 7% in the five-year period.

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