Via loses ground

Chipmaker Via is losing more ground to AMD and Intel, according to bean counters at IDC.

IDC said that worldwide x86 processor shipments during the fourth quarter last year totalled 96.9 million, and Via’s x86 shipments totalled only 80,000 units.

During the same time last year Via had a market share of 0.3 percent and shipped 310,000 x86 PC processors.

Via is mostly interested in selling low-power chips with up to four cores for low-end PCs.

But IDC said that Via has hit a new low after being held to a market share of under a percent for many years now.

As you might expect Intel, which held an 80.3 percent share during the quarter, is followed by AMD, which was a distant second with a 19.6 percent share. Worldwide the number of chips everyone shipped went up by a small amount. Last year only 95.64 million units were shipped.

Via seemed to suffer from the death of the netbook market, in which unit shipments have been declining as users gravitate to tablets.

Shane Rau, research director at IDC, told Computer World that netbooks had traction in 2009 and early 2010 when the value was on inexpensive systems. Now, the value is on other factors, like performance.

Via’s processors include its C7- and Nano-branded products. Via’s Nano chips were used by Lenovo and Samsung in netbooks and also by Dell in purpose-built, low-power servers. Now it seems that few major PC makers will use them.

Most of the chips are sold into Asia Pacific-based channel players and white-box PCs.

Via’s latest chips are made using the 40-nanometer process while Intel and AMD are looking at 22-nm.

IDC was careful not to write Via off. It said that it will continue to compete in the PC market. One of Via’s parent companies is Formosa Plastics Group, which has deep pockets and could provide a cash flow.

IDC predicted that Via should clean up in embedded computing. In a typical quarter, Via ships 500,000 processors for embedded systems.

It also does rather well offering graphics cards and processors based on ARM designs for mobile phones and tablets, Rau said.