Game consoles spur AMD's x86 processor market share

AMD's market share rose to 16.9 percent during the first quarter of 2014

Game consoles helped Advanced Micro Devices pick up market share in x86 processors during the first quarter of this year, while rival Intel's share dipped slightly.

AMD's x86 processor market share was 16.9 percent, growing from 14.3 percent in the same quarter last year, according to a study by Mercury Research. Intel's market share dipped to 82.8 percent from 85.2 percent in last year's first quarter.

The ratio of PC chips is declining in x86 processor shipments, helping AMD gain on Intel, which is relying heavily on tablet chips for growth, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

AMD x86 chips bought by Microsoft and Sony for use in their hot-selling game consoles accounted for 4 percent of AMD's market share, McCarron said. Market share resulting from game consoles should remain consistent for AMD, McCarron said.

Intel shipped around 5 million tablet chips during the first quarter for a larger portion of the company's x86 chip shipments. Intel is buying its way into the tablet market by establishing funds and providing subsidies to tablet makers for using its x86 chips.

Intel is projecting 40 million tablets with its chips to ship by the year end. Intel-based tablets are priced as low as US$99, while AMD is focusing on high-margin Windows tablets. Both companies are challenging ARM's dominance in the tablet market.

PC chip shipments were flat year-over-year, McCarron said. Desktop chip shipments grew 1 percent, while laptop chip shipments fell 2 percent. Shipments of x86 server chips declined. McCarron declined to provide exact x86 chip shipment numbers.

"PCs have leveled out, no erosion from tablets," McCarron said.

AMD in recent years has gained market share with low-priced PCs, but the company this month said it wants to be selective in its product mix as it moves away from low-margin products. PCs based on AMD's new Kaveri and Beema chips, and tablets based on the Mullins chip will become available in the second quarter. AMD started shipping low-priced Athlon and Sempron processors for desktops in the first quarter.

Intel is moving upcoming tablet and PC chips to the 14-nanometer manufacturing process, which will provide performance and power benefits. Intel's first 14-nm parts will be Broadwell chips for PCs and servers, which should reach products later this year.

Another player in the x86 chip market is Via Technologies, which held 0.2 percent market share in the first quarter of this year, according to Mercury Research.

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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