AMD Hits Mobile CPU Share Record Amid Historic Industry Decline

AMD grew its mobile CPU share to 22 percent against Intel in the third quarter as the processor segment saw its largest decline in shipments in the history of client CPUs, according to Mercury Research. That historical decline hurt Intel because it had ‘more exposure’ with entry-level CPUs, which saw a ‘greater than 50 percent drop’ from the previous quarter, the research firm says.

AMD hit a new record for market share in mobile CPUs in the third quarter, which helped the chipmaker reach its highest share against Intel in the overall x86 market since 2006.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company grew its mobile CPU share to 22 percent against Intel in the third quarter as the processor segment saw its largest decline in shipments in the history of client CPUs, according to the latest x86 CPU market-share report from Mercury Research. AMD’s CPU market share was 2 points higher than the previous quarter and 1.8 points higher than the same period last year.

[Related: AMD’s Q1 Server Gain Against Intel Was Largest Since 2006]

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Dean McCarron, president of Mercury Research, said the historic drop in mobile CPU shipments from the previous quarter contributed to a significant decline in overall x86 CPU shipments in the third quarter. He added that the mobile CPU decline hurt Intel because it was “driven by a greater than 50 percent” drop in entry-level CPUs as demand “evaporated” for low-end notebooks and Chromebooks, where Intel had “more exposure.”

“As a result, AMD gained share on declining unit shipments in the mobile segment, and this also helped AMD’s overall share to climb,” he said in an email.

McCarron noted that the entry-level notebook market had been “growing rapidly, presumably in response to COVID,” since the third quarter of last year. That was reflected by an average of more than 180 percent in year-over-year growth for every quarter before this year’s third quarter, he added.

However, while “some pullback” was expected for the entry-level notebook market in the second half of this year, “the return to pre-COVID volumes was instantaneous rather than gradual,” McCarron said.

The falloff in entry-level CPU shipments led to another milestone, according to McCarron: the largest increase in average selling price for CPUs over one quarter in 23 years.

When it came to the desktop side of the x86 CPU market, Intel only grew by 0.1 point from the previous quarter to 82.9 percent in the third quarter, largely against AMD (Taiwanese chipmaker VIA Technologies is the third company represented in the x86 desktop market but only has 0.1 percent). However, Intel’s desktop CPU share marked a 3.1-point gain over the same period last year.

McCarron said the overall decline in x86 CPU shipments shows that the PC market is not limited by CPU supply issues. Instead, the market is being limited by supply issues with other kinds of components, particularly in the high-end desktop market, he added.

Mercury Research estimated that Arm-based CPUs grew to roughly 8 percent of the overall PC CPU market in the third quarter, up from approximately 7 percent from the previous quarter and significantly higher than the less than 2 percent share from the same period last year.

McCarron said while Arm-based PC CPU shipments dropped slightly from the previous quarter—with a decline in the Arm-based Chromebook market offsetting growing shipments of Apple’s M1 chip—Arm’s market share was still able to grow because x86 CPUs shipments declined more than Arm did.

As for the x86 server CPU market, new records were achieved for overall shipments in the third quarter and for shipments by AMD. AMD’s share grew to 10.2 percent against Intel, which was 2 points higher than the previous quarter and 1.8 points higher than the same period last year.

This helped AMD’s share in the overall x86 CPU market grow to 24.6 percent against Intel, which is the highest it’s been since the fourth quarter of 2006, when AMD had an overall share of 25.3 percent, according to an AMD spokesperson. AMD’s overall share was 2.1 points higher than the previous quarter and 2.2 points higher than the same period last year.

Erik Stromquist, CEO of CTL, a Beaverton, Ore.-based Chromebook provider for the education market, told CRN that his company achieved a new record in the third quarter that was driven by a “massive pipeline related to Chromebook expansion and refresh.” However, he said, he noticed shipments had been slowing down for large OEMs because CTL sources systems from the same original device manufacturers and he noticed that his lead times had been improving.

“We’ve got to remember that schools had a massive, massive consumption [of Chromebooks] over the last two years, from COVID through this period of time,” he said. “I think a lot of them are just dealing with the hangover related to that, and they’re not really in the buying mood.”

Stromquist said CTL has remained an Intel-only shop as he’s been happy with the chipmaker’s latest Jasper Lake CPUs. He added that CTL has already pre-sold 75 percent for its first shipment of Chromebooks powered by the new chips, and they “haven’t even left the factories yet.” And while he doesn’t call the supply situation “perfect,” it’s been tolerable because of the planning CTL has done.

Stromquist said he doesn’t doubt that there is a pause in spending for the Chromebook market overall, but he expects it will bounce back soon, driven by things like the U.S. government’s Emergency Connectivity Fund that was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“They’ll be back. We’re talking to all the customers. They’re all planning their purchases,” he said. “They’re working through what they spent and trying to get the longest life out of those machines, and then they’re moving on to the next-gen stuff.”