The x86 processor market seems to be doing quite well emerging from recession and returning to normal seasonal patterns. While shipments had already shown a significant increase in Q3 2009, the industry had an even more impressive quarter at the end of the year. According to recent figures from IDC, almost 96 million units were dispatched during this period, making up for a record 31.3% year-on-year growth.

Intel's dominance in terms of market share was clear, with 80.5% of the CPU market in the fourth quarter, but rival AMD seems to have done especially well nonetheless. The company saw gains all across the board: in desktops, AMD gained 1.2% to take 28.6% of the market, while Intel slipped 1.1% to take 71.1%. On the mobile sector Intel was down 0.7% to 87.3% and AMD up 0.8% to take 12.7%. The pattern was repeated in the server and workstation market, where Intel took 89.8%, down 0.6%, and AMD was up 0.6% to 10.2%.

For the full year, Intel had a 79.7% share of the processor market, down 0.7%, while AMD gained 0.8% to secure a 20.1% share. IDC attributes AMD's "comeback" to aggressive pricing and a drop in demand for Intel's Atom in Q1 2009. The company also introduced several competitive products during the year. And while their chips couldn't match Intel's in performance, they offered good value in the mainstream and entry level markets.

IDC is now forecasting a healthy growth of 15.1% in worldwide PC processor shipments for 2010, with healthy consumer spending boosted by companies loosening up their IT budgets.