Influential market research firm IDC has begun listing ARM-based mobile chips alongside Intel PC processors. Previously, smartphone and tablet chips based on Arm Holdings’ CPU blueprints were listed in a category separate of Intel-based PC chips. CNET relayed an IDC research note that says:

For the first time, IDC is forecasting PC microprocessor units by processor architecture, including those based on x86 (Intel and Advanced Micro Devices) and those based on ARM.

IDC didn’t say whether the change meant categorizing iPad as a personal computing device. If so, grim surveys highlighting the decline in consumer PC sales could look different. Folks are increasingly picking up tablets and prolonging upgrading their computer. IDC expects that by 2015 over thirteen percent of PC processors will be based on ARM designs.

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A number of chip makers are paying royalties to use ARM’s IP. ARM-based  CPU cores are then combined on a single die with other components, such as the graphics cores, the memory controller and logic that binds them all together. ARM’s CPU designs dominate the mobile landscape, powering the vast majority of smartphones and tablets out there. This includes market leading iPad plus iPhone and iPod touch.

Apple’s A5 chip in iPad 2 is based on ARM’s dual-core Cortex-A9 processor design and is being manufactured by Samsung, which is also an ARM licensee. Texas Instruments and Qualcomm, chip makers behind processors in most Android devices, are heavy users of the ARM design, too.

Graphics giant Nvidia has also licensed ARM’s CPU blueprints for its Tegra processors. The company should debut a new desktop chip by 2013 capable of running Windows 8, stemming from Microsoft’s CES announcement that its operating system is going to support ARM-based architectures in addition to Intel’s x86 platform.

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