Although AMD's struggles have dominated recent headlines, the company actually managed to turn around its fortunes slightly in the fourth quarter of 2007, gaining some share in the market for all types of processors, according to market research firm iSuppli.
In the global CPU market ??“ consisting of X86, RISC and other types of general-purpose devices ??“ AMD in the fourth quarter of 2007 grew its share by 0.3 percentage points over the third quarter of 2007, according to iSuppli's final fourth-quarter ranking. Larger rival Intel increased its revenue by 0.2 percentage points sequentially. However, when comparing the fourth quarter 2007 results to the same period in 2006, only Intel grew its share, with its slice of the CPU market rising by 3.1 percentage points. In contrast, AMD lost 1.5 percentage points of share.
"With strong PC demand in the fourth quarter, particularly in the notebook segment, processor average selling prices (ASPs) for both AMD and Intel held firm," said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for Compute Platforms Research at iSuppli.
"Global unit shipments of PCs in the fourth quarter rose by 14.2% compared to the same period in 2006. This strong demand, along with increased sales of higher-end processors, helped to sustain ASPs."
In the fourth quarter, iSuppli continued to observe the two CPU giants ??“ Intel and AMD ??“ accounted for an increasing share of total market revenues. Combined, AMD and Intel accounted for 93% of overall CPU revenues in the fourth quarter of 2007, up 1.6 percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2006. On an annual basis the two accounted for just over 92% of market revenues in 2007, a gain of 1.4 percentage points from 2006.
Last year was challenging for AMD, with its market share declining by 2.9 percentage points. In contrast, Intel's share rose by 4.3 points.
"The delay in the introduction of AMD's Barcelona native quad-core CPUs was a factor in the company's performance for the year. Barcelona represents a clear area of competitive advantage for AMD compared to Intel, which still does not have a native quad-core design. However, the Barcelona delay has reduced the timeframe during which AMD can press that advantage."
Native quad-core refers to placing all four cores on a single chip, as opposed to portioning them onto two separate dice. Intel is expected to launch its own native quad-core processors at the end of this year, Wilkins noted. The company also plans to release a six-core version Xeons in 2008.