The Mercury Research CPU market share results are in for the fourth quarter of 2020, with the headline news being that Intel has clawed back share from AMD in the desktop PC market for the first time in three years. Intel also stopped its slide in the notebook PC segment, gaining share for as far as our records go back (2018). AMD also lost share in the overall x86 market during the quarter, but notched a solid gain for the year. Meanwhile, AMD continued to make its steady gains in the server market.
It’s noteworthy that the fourth quarter of 2020 was anything but typical: The PC market continued its pandemic-fueled surge, seeing its largest growth in a decade. For example, while AMD lost share in the overall x86 market (less IoT) during the quarter, Mercury Research pegs the overall x86 market growth rate at an explosive 20.1%. Intel obviously captured more of that growth than AMD, but it’s important to remember that losing a slight bit of share in the midst of an explosive growth environment doesn’t equate to declining sales – AMD grew its processor revenue by 50% last year and posted record financial results for the year.
AMD has been plagued by shortages due to ongoing supply chain issues. Given the lack of AMD products on shelves, the company is obviously selling all of the silicon it can punch out, signaling strong demand. AMD expects to see ‘tightness’ throughout the first half of 2021 until added production capacity comes online, meaning we could see a limited supply of AMD‘s PC and console chips until the middle of the year.
Those shortages led to a scarcity of AMD‘s chips during the critical holiday shopping season in the fourth quarter, while Intel’s chips were widely available and often selling at a discount. That obviously helped Intel recoup some share. During its recent earnings call, Intel also cited improving supply of lower-end processors, like those destined for Chromebooks, as a contributing factor. Intel CEO Bob Swan noted the company increased its PC CPU units by 33% during the fourth quarter.
Intel has also expanded its chip production by leaps and bounds over the last several years, and the advantages of its IDM model are on clear display during the pandemic – the company’s tight control of its supply chain and production facilities have allowed it to better weather disruptions.
That said, it’s hard to draw firm conclusions on several of the categories below. Dean McCarron of Mercury Research will provide us with detailed breakdowns for each segment in the morning, and we’ll add his analysis as soon as it is available. For now, here are the raw numbers.
AMD vs. Intel Desktop PC Market Share Q4 2020
|AMD Desktop Unit Share||19.3%||20.1%||19.2%||18.6%||18.3%||18%||17.1%||17.1%||15.8%||13%||12.3%||12.2%||12.0%||10.9%||11.1%||11.4%||9.9%||9.1%|
|Quarter over Quarter / Year over Year (pp)||-0.8 / +1.0||+0.9 / +2.1||+0.6 / +2.1||+0.3 / +1.5||+0.3 / +2.4||+0.9 / +5||Flat / +4.8||+1.3 / +4.9||+2.8 / +3.8||+0.7 / +2.1||+0.1 / +1.2||+0.2 / +0.8||+1.1 / +2.1||-0.2 / +1.8||-0.3 / –||+1.5 / –||+0.8 / –||–|
AMD recently introduced its Ryzen 5000 processors that take the lead in every meaningful metric from Intel’s Comet Lake chips, but a lack of supply could have hindered the company’s gains in this fast-growing segment. Intel’s Rocket Lake lands in Q1 2021, which could present more competition for AMD‘s Ryzen 5000.
While AMD lost some share here during the quarter, it gained 1 percentage point for the year. However, AMD recently noted that its Ryzen 5000 chips doubled the launch sales of any other previous Ryzen launch, and annual processor revenue grew 50% even though the PC market only grew 13%. It’s logical to expect that AMD will prioritize higher-margin desktop processors to maximize its production volume and profitability.
AMD has noted that its shortages are most acute in the lower end of the PC market, while Intel says it has improved its own shipments of small-core (lower-end) CPUs.
AMD vs. Intel Notebook / Mobile Market Share Q4 2020
|AMD Mobile Unit Share||19%||20.2%||19.9%||17.1%||16.2%||14.7%||14.1%||13.1%||12.2%||10.9%||8.8%|
|Quarter over Quarter / Year over Year (pp)||-1.2 / +2.8||+0.3 / +5.5||+2.9 / +5.8||+0.9 / +3.2||+1.5 / +4.0||+0.7 / +3.8||+1.0 / +5.3||+0.9 / ?|
Recently, this has been AMD‘s fastest-growing market. The mobile segment comprises roughly 60% of the client processor market, meaning any gains are very important in terms of overall volume and revenue.
Intel has cited its increasing penetration into the lower-end of the market, like Chromebooks, which likely contributed to its strong gains here. Again, AMD has said that its shortages are most pressing in the lower-end of the market.
Notably, AMD remained in the black here for the year, with a 2.8 percentage point gain.
AMD vs. Intel Server Unit Market Share Q4 2020
AMD bases its server share projections on IDC’s forecasts but only accounts for the single- and dual-socket market, which eliminates four-socket (and beyond) servers, networking infrastructure and Xeon D’s (edge). As such, Mercury’s numbers differ from the numbers cited by AMD, which predict a higher market share. Here is AMD‘s comment on the matter: “Mercury Research captures all x86 server class processors in their server unit estimate, regardless of device (server, network or storage), whereas the estimated 1P [single-socket] and 2P [two-socket] TAM [Total Addressable Market] provided by IDC only includes traditional servers.”
|AMD Server Unit Share||7.1%||6.6%||5.8%||5.1%||4.5%||4.3%||3.4%||2.9%||3.2%||1.6%||1.4%||0.8%|
|Quarter over Quarter / Year over Year (pp)||+0.5 / +2.6||+0.8 / +2.3||+0.7 / +2.4||+0.6 / 2.2||+0.2 / +1.4||+0.9 / +2.7||+0.5 / +2.0||-0.3 / –||+1.6 / 2.4||+0.2 / –|
AMD continues to claw away server share from Intel at a steady rate. These gains come on the cusp of the company’s highly-anticipated EPYC Milan launch in March. It’s logical to expect that pent up demand for Milan will increase AMD‘s server penetration next quarter.
AMD vs. Intel Total Market Share Q4 2020
|AMD Overall x86||21.7%||22.4%||18.3%||14.8%||15.5%||14.6%||13.9%||12.3%||10.6%|
|Overall PP Change QoQ / YoY||-0.7 / +6.2||+4.1 / +6.3||+3.5 / +1.2 (+3.7?)||-0.7 / ?||+0.9 / +3.2||+0.7 / +4||?||?||–|
The overall x86 market grew at an explosive 20.1% rate during the quarter, reflecting that a growing TAM benefits both players. AMD lost a minor amount of share in this segment during the quarter, but gained 6.2 percentage points for the year.
We’ll add McCarron’s segment analysis as soon as it is available.