AMD strikes huge blow to Intel as CPU market share hits all-time high

(Image credit: AMD)

AMD has hit a new record high overall CPU market share (when it comes to x86 processors), despite an overall drop in the total sales of these chips.

The latest report from Mercury Research found AMD reached an all-time high of a 27.7% market share in processors (with Intel holding the remainder, of course) for the first quarter of 2022. That’s up strongly from 20.7% in the same quarter of 2021, meaning that year-on-year, AMD has piled on 7% market share (an increase of a third).

This includes all x86 silicon, meaning not just desktop, laptop and server processors, but also custom-built chips for the likes of games consoles (along with Internet of Things devices too).

AMD record

Dean McCarron of Mercury told Tom’s Hardware: “For all-inclusive share … AMD gained share in the first quarter and set a new record high at 27.7%, beating the 25.6% record set last quarter. Recall last quarter AMD broke the record it had set more than 15 years ago of 25.3%.”

So Team Red is now in a stronger position than it was during the firm’s previous peak a decade-and-a-half ago, with the promise of being able to push forward more and make further gains.

The overall CPU market fell across all sectors, including a rather precipitous drop of 30%, quarter-on-quarter, in terms of the number of units shifted for desktop PCs. That represents the biggest slide ever seen from one quarter to the next, to put it in perspective.

With desktop CPUs, AMD held a share of 18.3%, reversing some of the recent slide the firm has seen over the course of last year – during Q1 2021, a year back, the company was actually on 19.3%. But the Q1 2022 figure of 18.3% is up strongly on the previous quarter, where AMD sank to 16.2%, its worst performance since 2018 (with Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs doubtless driving some good sales for Team Blue in that final quarter of 2021).

For notebook processor market share, AMD ticked up to 22.5% (that’s up from 21.6% the previous quarter – solid progress).

However, one of the most telling shifts came in the server market, where AMD rose to an 11.6% share, up from 8.9% a year ago, with steady gains coming every quarter.

Analysis: AMD server gains must be a concern for Intel

Even though AMD’s server market share is still relatively modest, Intel will doubtless be worried about the erosion happening in this particular sphere. Team Red now owns 11.6% of the market, and that’s risen strongly from a 5.1% share back at the start of 2020 – there’s a level of consistency about AMD’s upward progress which will be a real concern for dominant power Intel. Indeed, if we wind the clock back to 2018, AMD had next-to-no market share in this arena.

AMD’s Epyc processors have been nothing short of a revelation, with Milan-X chips recently unleashed complete with 3D V-cache, big performance boosts, and the promise of some serious power savings (reducing long-term cost, which is, of course, a crucial aspect of these server products).

AMD will certainly be pleased with its progress in servers, and in overall terms for total x86 share, helped by supplying chips for consoles as we already mentioned.

The other point that jumps out in this bunch of figures is the severity of that decline in desktop processor sales, with a steep 30% drop. Both Intel and AMD saw their numbers tank in that regard, but AMD held up better, Mercury Research theorizes, because the quarter saw retailers selling off excess CPU inventory – and there was more of that for Intel.

In other words, AMD hasn’t been pumping out as many desktop processors in recent times, and we’ve seen that in some of the stock shortages which have cropped up, as Team Red prioritizes production of those Epyc chips, understandably as they’re bigger profit-spinners than consumer models.

The decline in desktop CPU sales may also be tied up in folks having less disposable income as various economic headwinds are coming increasingly into play, such as rising energy costs, inflation and so forth. Also, bear in mind that the pandemic and people working from home has buoyed hardware upgrades and sales in recent times, and we may be seeing that activity now dropping off.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).