AMD gains x86 processor market share on Intel in Q1

AMD gained a slight market share as mobile shipments grew and hard drive shipments stabilized

Advanced Micro Devices gained market share on Intel in worldwide x86 processor shipments during the first quarter on the strength of mobile and desktop shipment growth, Mercury Research said Wednesday.

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Intel's market share in the first quarter this year dropped to 80.2 percent from 81 percent in last year's first quarter. AMD's market share rose to 19.1 percent from 18.2 percent, according to Mercury Research.

Overall x86 processor shipments declined in the first quarter compared to the year-ago quarter, which is an indicator of a "not-so-stellar" market, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. The company did not provide numbers for the decline rate.

AMD benefited from a recovery in hard drive shipments, which were affected by floods in Thailand. That recovery helped stabilize the company's desktop processor shipments, McCarron said. AMD is strong in desktop processors, with 43 percent of the market, the same as last year.

"When you look on it as a quarterly basis, desktop has had some strength relative to mobile," McCarron said. AMD's desktop processor shipments were hurting at the prime of the hard-drive shortage in the fourth quarter last year, and shipments recovered in the first quarter.

Customers also opted for lower-priced laptops, many of which had AMD's chips. Supplies of AMD's A-series chips code-named Llano were restored after manufacturing issues were resolved, McCarron said.

Intel didn't have specific weak spots and the company's market share was hurt primarily as AMD recovered from a myriad of issues. But surprisingly, Intel's lower-end Atom and Celeron chip shipments went up as PC makers refreshed chip inventory. Atom and Celeron chips are doing well in low-priced desktops and other value PCs, McCarron said.

Intel and AMD are releasing new chips for laptops and desktops that could reset the chip battle in the current quarter. PCs with Intel's new third-generation Core processors code-named Ivy Bridge are now available and PCs will soon become available with AMD's new A-series chips code-named Trinity and new, low-power C- and E-series chips code-named Brazos 2.0.

Intel's Ivy Bridge chips are based on the latest 22-nanometer process, which gives it a performance advantage over AMD, McCarron said. AMD is a process generation behind Intel, but is implementing a new microarchitecture as it tries to boost chip performance while bringing down power consumption.

"One of the things that is clear is that the market is adopting new technology faster than it used to. I would expect Ivy Bridge to ramp aggressively," McCarron said. By June, Intel will have an Ivy Bridge replacement for all current second-generation Core processors code-named Sandy Bridge.

Intel already has the early starter advantage and AMD needs to introduce products in time to remain competitive, McCarron said. AMD will likely start with higher-margin products and then trickle down to mainstream laptops and desktops.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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