Intel's market share rises on AMD's problems

As might be expected, a horrible quarter from Advanced Micro Devices proves to be good news for Intel across the board.

Intel gained back some chip market share on the heels of Advanced Micro Devices' abysmal first quarter.

JP Morgan released a research note Tuesday containing market share data compiled by Mercury Research. Dean McCarron of Mercury confirmed the basic numbers, which had Intel's share soaring to 80.5 percent in the first quarter, from 74.4 percent in the previous quarter. AMD's share fell in similar proportions to 18.7 percent, compared with an all-time high of 25.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

But the numbers look worse than usual because AMD was forced to get rid of excess inventory in the fourth quarter, which provided plenty of chips for its customers in the first quarter that they would have otherwise had to buy directly from AMD during the quarter, McCarron said. Throw out the inventory problems and AMD's market share still declined, but probably only by 2 percentage points or so, he said.

That's not much comfort for AMD, however. The company is reeling from an awful quarter in which it posted a $611 million loss. AMD made huge strides against its much larger competitor from 2003 until last year, picking up share and winning new customers on the strength of its Opteron and Athlon 64 processors. But Intel is much more competitive these days with its Core 2 Duo processors, and has a significant lead in manufacturing technology as well.

AMD lost share in all the categories measured by Mercury's report: desktop, notebook and server processors based on the x86 instruction set. McCarron declined to confirm the exact numbers, but JP Morgan said that AMD lost eight points of desktop market share, seven points of server market share, and four points of notebook share. Mercury usually only provides that level of detail for its private subscribers, and its numbers reflect the number of processors sold into the distribution channel, not necessarily the number of systems sold using Intel or AMD chips.

The market as a whole declined a bit more from the fourth quarter to the first than the industry would normally expect, McCarron said. There's almost always a dip in shipments coming off the fourth quarter, which is the busiest period of the year. But this year it looks like server and PC sales are slowing down from the rapid growth posted over the last couple of years.

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