Quad-core CPUs to move into mainstream in 2009, iSuppli says

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

El Segundo (CA) – If you are planning to upgrade from a dual-core to a quad-core processor, but shy away from spending more than twice as much for four cores than for two, then you will have to be patient. Quad-core CPUs will become more common over time, but it will take more than two years until these CPUs will be in more than half of all mainstream PCs, iSuppli predicts.

No doubt about it, quad-core is what gets not only computer enthusiasts, but pretty anyone else who is somewhat interested in doing more than writing letters and filling out spreadsheets excited these days. And even if AMD will be rolling out a wave of quad-core processors soon and Intel will be adding at least half a dozen new models to its existing portfolio of eight quad-cores within the next three quarters, the average buyer will have to get in line and be patient.

According to iSuppli, only 16% of performance PCs with a price tag of $1000 or higher that were sold in the first quarter of this year were equipped with quad-core processors. The market research firm expects this number to climb to 33% in Q4 2007 and to 94% in Q4 2009. iSuppli said that the performance segment represents only 6% of total PC shipments.

The fact that Intel is the only processor manufacturer to ship quad-core processors has allowed these CPUs to maintain their price premium and sell for significantly more money than dual-core processors with the same clock speed. Intel’s Q6600, for example, has a tray price of $851, while the E6600 dual-core runs for $316. iSuppli believes that this price level will not allow mainstream PCs ($500 to $1000) to offer quad-core processors during the first half of 2007. 5% of mainstream PCs could ship with quad-cores, however, in Q3 and 7% in Q4. The firm estimates that quad-core penetration in the mainstream segment will slowly grow to 18% by Q4 2008 and hit 49% in Q4 2009.  

Entry-level PCs with prices between $300 and $500 are not expected to offer quad-core processors within the next two years.

Notebooks appear to lagging behind the overall multi-core trend. iSuppli said that there will not be any mainstream notebooks with quad-core processors until the first quarter of 2009: 4% of all new notebooks are expected to integrate the technology at that time; by Q4 2009, 11% of mainstream notebooks will include a quad-core chip, the firm said.