The two-horse race between Intel and AMD has been a hoary old chestnut for many years now. Intel was the 900-pound gorilla in the business of making faster and more powerful computer chips and AMD was playing catch up all the while. For those who may have forgotten, AMD stands for Advanced Micro Devices and for most of the journey thus far, the company found Intel just that one step away and beyond that allowed it to corner a larger market share in the PC processor business.
But, not anymore! The battle between the two chip-makers is at its most intense levels these days and by the early looks, AMD is actually winning market share from Intel in the PC processor business and their Ryzen processors and high-end desktop Threadripper are giving a tough time to Intel’s Cascade Lake-X processors and other products. Like several times in the past, Team Red has risen again; posing ample challenges for team blue (no offense to IBM!).
Slow and Steady
A new report from Mercury Research, a market analyst firm that specializes in PC components, suggests that AMD is experiencing growth in all segments of the industry, thanks to its popular 7nm Ryzen 3000 processors and aggressive pricing strategy that are paying off in the market. Early October, Microsoft had unveiled its 15-inch Surface 3 laptop powered by the Ryzen CPU, the first time that an OEM has preferred AMD over Intel in a flagship product.
Of course, one swallow doesn’t make a summer (or an autumn). Overall, AMD is still far behind Intel in terms of market share, but there is no doubt that it is slowly but steadily stealing market share from the chip giant. AMD now has an 18% market share in its desktop CPU market. This represents a giant leap of sorts as the year-on-year increase is an impressive five per cent.
Juxtapose it to the fact that this growth came despite AMD facing supply-side constraints with the high-end chips for Ryzen 3000 earlier this year. With the problem now being addressed, analysts now forecast that AMD is likely to continue increasing its desktop CPU market share in the coming quarter. The recent launch of the powerful AMD Ryzen 9 3950X and new Threadripper processors, AMD could see another wave of strong sales, potentially further increasing its CPU market share.
In the server market too, where AMD now has 4.3% share, there has been a 2.7% rise y-o-y. It was predicted that its EPYC Rome server CPUs could force Intel’s server market share below 90 percent in 2020. AMD’s mobile processors are also surging ahead in terms of market share, being pegged at 14.7%, as noted by a report published recently on Tom’s Hardware.
Another report from Engadget said, AMD’s 12-core and 16-core Ryzen 9 3900x and 3950X CPUs, which doubled the thread count of competing i9-9900 series chips threatened not only Intel’s gaming market but muscled in on its workstation territory.
To compete with its more affordable rival, Intel was forced to cut the price of some products as it looks to compete with AMD’s more affordable offerings. For instance, the chipzilla launched the Cascade Lake i9-10980X at $999, another mainstream product for high-end platforms, which is half the price of the previous 9980XE model.
While Intel is still the dominant player in the CPU markets, with the company lagging on 7nm and PCI 4.0, AMD is expected to eat up Intel’s market share slowly but steadily.
The Battle is On
There is more evidence of how Intel is losing out to AMD. In a recent report on news site Techradar, AMD CEO, Lisa Su pointed to next-gen 7nm (Zen 2) mobile processors arriving in early 2020 to pep things up for laptops, and concluded that all this represented a “pretty strong portfolio”.
She said, “We’re well underway with Zen 3 as a follow-on, as well, for 2020 – lots of product activity. Even though 2019 was a big product year, I think 2020 will be an even larger product year for us.” The company has already scored a big win with Microsoft releasing an AMD-powered Surface Laptop 3. Previously, Surface devices have used Intel processors exclusively. Moreover, in the smartphone space, there are talks that Samsung may include AMD’s Radeon rDNA graphics in its phones in the next two years.
Currently AMD is ahead with its 7nm processors, which Intel won’t match until 2021, say analysts. AMD’s recent successes have certainly shaken the Intel kingdom. Intel is currently struggling on various grounds. The company’s vaunted manufacturing arm failed to migrate to the 10nm manufacturing process on time. This has stalled its Core processors on increasingly refined versions of 14nm cores. This suggests that Intel’s next-gen desktop chips will run on its14nm Comet Lake cores.
An article published in PC World said how Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities required Intel to release software mitigations that slowed down its processors, while 9th-gen Core processors removed Hyper-Threading from the Core i5 and i7 lineups (possibly to help combat those security flaws). The company’s factories have also struggled to meet demand for chips. The Chipzilla also found itself uniquely weak for the first time in a long time.
Needless to say, despite being the current market leader Intel is either retaliating with price cuts of its products or are engaged in a blame game. Intel says Qualcomm’s business practices drove it out of the modem chip market. In a new blog post, Intel EVP and General Counsel Steven R. Rodgers, said, “Intel suffered the brunt of Qualcomm’s anticompetitive behavior, was denied opportunities in the modem market, was prevented from making sales to customers and was forced to sell at prices artificially skewed by Qualcomm.”
While Intel remains in the lead overall, AMD is continuously making huge strides with its well-received products and building its market share in every area. It looks like things could be getting even more interesting in the CPU market share war in the coming days.