CPU shipments suffer biggest decline in 30 years, for the second time in the last year
But AMD gained CPU market share, againBy Daniel Sims 15 comments
The big picture: Reports continue to roll in, signaling that 2022 was a historically rough year for hardware sales across the tech industry. Throughout the year, PC processor sales saw not one but two record-breaking quarterly slumps. And yet, AMD managed to gain market share in both cases.
Mercury Research writes (via Tom's Hardware) that the fourth quarter of 2022 saw the biggest fall in PC processor shipments in three decades. If reading that gives you a sense of déjà vu, it's because the same thing happened earlier in the same year.
The same market research group reported that Q2 2022 desktop CPU sales suffered their biggest year-on-year decline since they started recording that data in 1994. Now, it seems Q4 2022's quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year drop broke that record. Moreover, third-party data leads Mercury to conclude that 2022 represents the biggest slump in PC CPU history.
Excluding Arm processors, around 374 million CPUs were shipped in 2022, 21 percent less than in 2021. 2022 CPU revenues saw a 19 percent drop to $65 billion. The primary cause is inventory adjustments, which had a bigger impact than declining sales. This means that although shipments sharply fell, it didn't necessarily indicate an equally stark slide in sales to end users.
Data: Mercury Research
Another important detail is that the decline affected x86 processors more than others. Recent reports indicate that Arm processors are gaining market share in the laptop market, suggesting they haven't suffered the same blow x86 units did last year.
Tech manufacturers struggled to increase inventory after the supply chain shocks starting in 2020 coincided with swelling demand. This led to oversupply which, combined with falling demand in 2022, spelled bad financials for almost everybody.
Revenues from DRAM saw their greatest global drop since the 2008 financial crisis last year. Desktop GPUs experienced their lowest sales since 2005. Companies like Nvidia and AMD slashed their orders from TSMC. Falling demand for smartphones resulted in 8-year quarterly lows from Samsung and Apple's largest quarterly revenue slump since 2016.
Like some analyses have reported for other sectors, Mercury expects the choppy waters for CPU shipments to continue through the first half of 2023 before turning around in H2.
When Mercury reported the Q2 2022 numbers, they showed a market share gain for AMD, which has been replicated in Q4. From 2021 to 2022, Team Red's share of the x86 CPU market grew from 23 percent to 30 percent. Most of those gains were in the server CPU market, although Intel gained some market share in mobile processors.