Analyst: Nearly half of all PCs to use graphics processors

IHS iSuppli cites competition between Intel, AMD amid growing demand from common users

Half the notebook computers and a growing number of desktops shipped in 2011 will run on graphics-enabled microprocessors as designers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) increase competition for the units that raise multimedia speeds without add-ons, market research firm IHS iSuppli said.

The processors with built-in graphics capabilities will be installed this year on 115 million notebooks, half of total shipments, and 63 million desktop PCs, or 45 percent of the total, IHS said in a note on Wednesday.

The number is growing this year because Intel's Sandy Bridge graphics-enabled microprocessors (GEM) are vying with a series announced in January by AMD to replace more cumbersome CPU-plus-graphic card combinations as common users expect better multimedia on their PCs.

"The two biggest players in the PC microprocessor field are intensifying their competition in the GEM market in 2011," IHS said. "Intel at the beginning of 2011 was getting ready to launch its second-generation Core processor family known as Sandy Bridge, which integrates the CPU and graphics processor into one single piece of silicon. AMD, on the other hand, will release five application platforms with five GEM microprocessor categories."

AMD began rolling out those processors after announcing them earlier in the year, said Peter Lin [cq], an analyst with the research firm in Taipei.

GEMs give computers more power to run visually intensive applications without an extra graphics processor or graphics card. "Computers today are serving up ever-richer multimedia experiences, so the graphics capabilities of PCs have become more important, driving the rising penetration of GEMs," Lin said.

But gamers and others who expect "high performance" graphics will not get the same quality from GEMs as from free-standing graphics cards, the research note said. GEMs, it said, will "satisfy the needs of the mass PC market."

By 2014, 83 percent of the world's notebooks and 76 percent of desktops will ship with graphics-enabled microprocessors, IHS said.

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