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Fourth quarter of 2022 worst for CPUs in 30 years

by on13 February 2023

Thus spake the great god Mercury 

Beancounters sitting at the crossroads have declared that the fourth quarter of 2022 saw the biggest fall in PC processor shipments in three decades.

Mercury Research effectively copied the second quarter's report indicating that in 2022 PC processor sales dropped down the loo.

Mercury reported that second-quarter 2022 desktop CPU sales suffered their biggest year-on-year decline since they started recording that data in 1994. For those who can't remember 1994, it is not surprising.  It was the year that bought us Nagivator and the mysterious death of OJ Simpson's wife..  

The fourth quarter of 2022's quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year drop broke that record. Third-party data leads Mercury to conclude that 2022 represents the biggest slump in PC CPU history.

Excluding Arm processors, just 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.

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 the second half.

When Mercury reported the second quarter 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.


Last modified on 13 February 2023
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