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AMD claws cash back from Intel

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AMD may have flubbed the launch of its first quad-core processors but it managed to claw back a few points of revenue share against Intel in the first quarter of 2009.

Worldwide microprocessor chip revenues across all architectures and vendors, meanwhile, dropped off a cliff to hit $6.9bn, down 20.6 per cent from the $8.6bn in sales for CPUs in 1Q 2008.

That's according to market researcher iSuppli, who's provided both sequential and year-on-year comparisons on the heals of the economic downturn and churn in the x64 chip product lines. And, it can be argued, the sequential numbers are more important than the annual figures.

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2008, AMD's share of microprocessor revenues increased by 2.3 per cent, giving it 12.8 per cent, or about $883m in sales.

By contrast, Intel's share of the microprocessor racket dropped by 2.5 per cent to 79.1 per cent of the pie, or just under $5.5bn. This number includes all of Intel's chips, obviously, meaning Atom and Core desktop and laptop chips and Xeon and Itanium server chips.

Sequentially, other vendors peddling microprocessors accounted for $559m in revenues, or 8.1 per cent of the CPU pie. They gained two-tenths of a per cent share sequentially.

On an annual basis, the market shares hardly changed at all, with Intel actually gaining one-tenth of a point, AMD losing the same, and other vendors getting the same sized slice.

Matthew Wilkins, iSuppli principle analyst for compute platforms research, said AMD lost share sequentially to Intel in three out of four quarters in 2008 and AMD gained share across all types of processors in Q1 sequentially. AMD, though, got the most share back in the notebook sector.

"This was an impressive feat given the economic downturn and the weakness in the PC and server markets," Wilkins said.

Intel's gains in 2008 came in part from the growing netbook market and the increasing use of Atom processors in such machines, with strong server, desktop, and laptop chip sales making up the bulk of the revenues. Atoms were the icing on a three x64 layer cake with some Itanium filling, it would seem.

Wilkins said the contraction in the PC and server space in Q1 was what hurt Intel, but he didn't mention that part of the problem was that the Nehalem EP Xeon 3500 and 5500 server processors were not launched until the end of March.

AMD and Intel will be fighting tooth and nail for every chip sale, particularly in the second and third quarters as server and PC sales are down. iSuppli is forecasting that global microprocessor sales will drop to $28.6bn in 2009, down 15.8 per cent from the $34bn in sales in 2008. ®

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