AMD Tops Intel in Spring Desktop Sales

Desktop PCs with processors from Advanced Micro Devices outsold desktops based on processors from Intel in U.S. retail channels for the week ending April 24, according to research released late last week from Current Analysis.

The results are a high-water mark for AMD, although Current Analysis has been tracking this market for only a few quarters, says Toni Duboise, analyst. It's the first time AMD-based desktops have surpassed Intel desktops since last November, when Current Analysis began tracking the data, Duboise adds.

"It represents how AMD is gaining strength and momentum within the consumer market," Duboise says. Sales of PCs with both the Athlon XP and the newer Athlon 64 improved not only in the low-end of the market where AMD has already enjoyed some success, but in higher-priced desktops, she says.

CPU Wars Continue

Intel still controls the overall market, especially among notebooks, the fastest-growing segment of the PC market. Sixty-one percent of all PCs sold during the week ending April 24 came with Intel processors, and 81 percent of notebooks sold that week were powered by Intel processors, Duboise says.

Desktop sales account for 60 percent of the overall PC market, and AMD has made its greatest strides against Intel in that category, the analyst notes. PC companies such as Hewlett-Packard have started to sell more AMD PCs at retail. In particular, HP introduced three new Pavilion models that helped AMD beat Intel for the week, Duboise says.

But desktop PCs based on Intel technology are about to get a boost with the introduction of the Grantsdale chipset expected this quarter. Grantsdale will improve overall system performance with support for the PCI Express interconnect technology, faster DDR2 (double data rate 2) memory, and an integrated wireless access point. Intel's desktop partners are expected to introduce new systems once Grantsdale is formally introduced.

Those new PCs will likely put Intel back on top of the retail desktop market later this year, Duboise says.

Intel Dominates X86

When it comes to general x86 processors shipped into the market, Intel still holds a clear lead over AMD, says Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research.

Intel shipped 83.6 percent of the desktop, notebook and server processors shipped to system builders and distributors in the first quarter, McCarron says. AMD shipped 14.9 percent of the processors in that category.

Despite the interest in AMD's Opteron processor, Intel still controls the market for servers based on the x86 instruction set with over 90 percent market share in that category. This helps explain why Intel's overall numbers are far better than AMD's despite the latter company's success at retail this quarter.

Overall, the processor market was down a little more in the first quarter than seasonal patterns usually reflect, McCarron says. The first half of the year is generally slower than the second half, when the PC market accelerates due to back-to-school and holiday shopping patterns.

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