Multi-core processor quickly taking over the CPU market - analyst

El Segundo (CA) - Despite the promises of chip manufacturers to quickly move dual-core processors into the mainstream, only a small fraction of computers sold today in fact come with such a chip. This scenario will change soon, market research firm iSupply believes.

In little over a year from now, iSuppli's numbers suggest, it will hard to come by a computer without a dual- or multi-core processor. While 2005 shipments of dual-core CPUs are estimated to come in just below 15 million - or about 7 percent of total units expected to sell this year - the market research firm believes that there will be an aggressive transition to increase the number of processor cores in desktop and mobile computers.

For 2006, iSuppli estimates dual- and multi-core shipments at about 98 million, which is almost half of the units the computer industry is expected to sell this year. In 2008, multi-cores may top 190 million chips sold, the firm said. Shipments are expected to grow every year, passing 300 million in 2009, 400 million in 2011, 500 million in 2013 and 600 million ten years from now. Market revenue will expand to $64.8 billion, up from $2.6 billion in 2005, according to iSuppli's report.

Despite the 2005 production volume of dual-core processors that is lower than what many analysts had expected earlier this year, and much of the ramp will arrive with the 65 nm generation of desktop processors, there appears to be a sufficient amount of processors available in the market with retail box prices having eroded significantly in recent months. AMD's Athlon X2 processor, which experienced tight supply at its launch can be purchase well below their 1000-unit pricing indicated by the manufacturer. According to, the flagship model 4800+ currently averages around $792, while AMD lists volume pricing of $803. The 4600+ runs for $599 instead of the listed $643. On the lower end, the 3800+ averages at $322, close to the volume pricing of $328.

A similar scenario can be seen at Intel. The Pentium D 800 series has entered the mainstream several months ago, with the entry level chip 820 currently selling in retail for $242 - corresponding to a list price of $241. The higher end 840 version runs for $522, instead of the $530 list.

AMD typically does not provide details on its production plans. Intel, however, mentioned in the past that it plans to ship 70 percent of its processors as dual-cores in 2006 and 90 percent in 2007. The same figures are expected to be achieved with mobile CPUs. Servers will see an 85 percent dual-core share in 2006, and close to 100 percent in 2007, Intel said.