Intel, which believes in investing during a downturn to the tune of spending $7bn on new manufacturing facilities over the next two years, is trying to persuade its customers to think the same way.

It released a survey and statistics on Tuesday that suggested investing in upgrading three or four-year-old computers will quickly pay for itself.

The study, carried out by consultants Wipro involving 106 US and European companies, said that two-thirds of them were continuing to upgrade their computers during the recession.

Their reasons were that new PCs were more secure and cheaper to run, to the extent that they paid for themselves with energy and other savings in a matter of months – as low as 10 months for those using Intel’s vPro technology.

“Yes, it’s tough economic times but those IT departments who can, are continuing to refresh because they are worried about security, and newer PCs can reduce their operational costs,” Rob Crooke, head of Intel’s Business Client Group, told a press briefing.

Mr Crooke avoided comment on whether many businesses were awaiting Windows 7, Microsoft’s next operating system, before upgrading. He speculated that the one-third that were not upgrading as usual either “had no cash, or the industry, including ourselves, had not had the chance to explain to them the benefits.”

Figures released by Mercury Reseach on Monday night, on microprocessors sold in the first quarter, suggested conditions were bottoming out for Intel and its rival AMD.

Units declined 8.3 per cent on the fourth quarter and 9.1 per cent compared to a year ago, but this compared to an 18 per cent sequential decline in the fourth quarter.

Intel lost nearly 4 percentage points of market share to AMD – down to 78.2 per cent from 82.1 per cent in Q4, as enterprise spending was weak and AMD performed better in the consumer PC segment.

Notebook sales were also weak and units of Intel’s Atom processor, which has powered the netbook category, were down 33 per cent from the fourth quarter, at 5.6m units.

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