Shipments of desktop, notebook and workstation PCs are expected to grow this year despite ongoing shortages of semiconductors, according to research firm IDC.
IDC’s new forecast in its Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker revealed shipments of PCs are expected to grow 18.1 percent to 357 million units in 2021.
While the forecast also said shipments will also drop slightly (2.9 percent) in 2022, the overall compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over five years remains positive at 3 percent.
"We continue to get an abundance of questions about the growing semiconductor shortage and its impact on PCs, but it is important to peel back the onion because there is a lot happening underneath the PC supply chain," IDC program vice president Ryan Reith said.
"We don't debate that the overall semiconductor market is constrained right now, but for the overall PC market, it is a very different narrative than the years leading up to the pandemic. Prior to 2020, the market was undergoing CPU shortages and to a lesser extent tight memory and panel supply.
“Now the focus is around lower-priced components like notebook panel driver ICs, audio codecs, sensors, and power management ICs (PMICs). Nonetheless, without 100 percent of the parts; a finished system will not ship, so a bottleneck is a bottleneck."
IDC program vice president for semiconductors Mario Morales said the common denominator across the parts in short supply is that they use the same technology of 40nm or older nodes.
"Mature technology nodes account for more than 50 percent of all the capacity in the semiconductor industry and suppliers are only gradually increasing capacity as they prioritise on the largest segments of their business and invest more on mainstream and leading-edge nodes,” he said.
“IDC expects that shortages will begin to ease by the end of Q3 this year. A broader upstream balance of the industry is not expected until the first half of 2022."
The research firm added that demand for PCs in the consumer, education and commercial segments will continue to grow and are in desperate need of inventory. Consumer also has the biggest upside compared to pre-pandemic levels, followed by education and commercial.
IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani said, "As the component shortages continue into next year, we anticipate at least some of the buyers will settle for desktops in place of notebooks as the urgency of demand for any kind of PC remains quite high."
"Longer term, the consumer refresh cycle is also expected to be pulled in slightly as the pandemic has raised the profile of PCs and consumers continue to spend more time and dollars on PC gaming and content consumption."