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  • Post published:24/08/2021
  • Post last modified:24/08/2021

AMD has made gains over Intel in server and mobile shipments and slipped slightly when it comes to consumer desktop shipments, according to new data from Mercury Research measuring relative market share changes between the two companies. AMD has been chipping away at Intel’s market share since the debut of Ryzen four years ago, and that chipping has paid dividends, but the impact of the semiconductor shortage and COVID-19 pandemic has blunted AMD’s ability to take share in every market.

When Intel or AMD is manufacturing constrained, they focus on shipping the most valuable parts they can build. This typically means both firms prioritize server and mobile marketing share over desktop. The desktop market is bifurcated between lower-end generally cheaper systems and high-end desktop and workstation hardware used by content creators and gamers.

In terms of total x86 market share, Intel leads AMD 77.5 percent to 22.5 percent. That’s a gain of 4.2 percent since the same period in 2020 and 1.8 percent since Q1 2021. The gains were not distributed evenly, however. In desktop, AMD lost 2.1 points of market share. It picked up 0.1 percent in mobile year-on-year, but 1.9 percent quarter on quarter.

The company’s largest segment gains were in servers, where its market share rose from a measured 5.8 percent by Mercury to 9.5 percent this year. AMD sometimes models server market share differently than Mercury, which is why you’ll see some figures bounce around a bit between the two companies.

“In the current capacity-constrained market, the suppliers have to choose which segments to build products for, and in Q2 it appears that AMD traded off desktop production for more mobile and console CPUs, while Intel traded low-end mobile CPUs for more desktop processors,” Dean McCarron, head of Mercury Research, told PCMag.

The CPU Market Heats Up in the Back Half of 2021

Things have been quiet in the x86 CPU market so far this year. Intel’s Rocket Lake launch did not make a huge splash in the enthusiast community, though some of the lower-end Core i5 and i7 CPUs have been good deals against Ryzen in every metric beyond power efficiency. The fact that Rocket Lake is still built on 14nm puts it at a disadvantage against AMD in such comparisons.

The rest of the year should be more exciting. AMD is promising to launch Zen 3 CPUs equipped with an additional 64-128MB of V-Cache with an expected overall performance uplift of 15 percent. Intel’s Alder Lake will be the first hybrid x86 CPU with a mixture of big and little cores. The exact degree of performance uplift is uncertain — predictions have ranged from better than the Ryzen 9 5950X to less competitive with AMD’s mobile chips — but it’s going to be a significant launch regardless.

We’re also expecting to hear something regarding future M-class processors from Apple. While the company hasn’t yet followed up on the M1 with an improved design for more powerful laptops or desktops, refreshes are believed to be coming later this year. Apple isn’t offering direct competition with Windows systems — not exactly — but companies like Qualcomm are building high-performance ARM cores as well, with plans to launch competitive systems in 2023.

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