In case anyone thought Intel was oblivious to the recent rise of rival AMD in both the mainstream and enthusiast CPU sectors, recent comments by the Santa Clara chipmaker should put that notion to rest. Simply put, Intel is well aware of the situation. This came to light during a recent Citi Global Tech Conference, in which Intel acknowledged it has conceded "some channel desktop share" to AMD, while vowing to "aggressively compete in all segments."
This is what any tech savvy person has suspected since the introduction of AMD's Zen architecture, and in particular the recent launch of third generation Ryzen processors based on Zen 2 (the third iteration of Zen, built on a 7-nanometer manufacturing process). However, it is interesting to see Intel be somewhat candid about the situation.
"We want to aggressively compete in all segments. As we have gone through the supply issue kind of in the last six to 12 months on the PC side, we had to walk away from some low-end mobile share as well as some channel desktop share. But as we continue to improve our supply situation, we’ll continue to get more aggressive there," said Jason L, Grebe, corporate vice president and general manager of cloud platforms and technology at Intel.
Grebe did not specifically name Intel's rival, but he did not have to—we all know he was referring to AMD, in terms of where the lost market share ended up. After all, it is not like Qualcomm is stealing desktop market share from Intel (though it is making inroads into some laptops).
Lest there be any doubt, Mindfactory, one of the biggest hardware retailers in Germany, often shares breakdowns of its CPU sales to do-it-yourself (DIY) builders. The most recent data from the online retailer showed 79 percent of processor sales over the past year being AMD chips, compared to 22 percent being Intel silicon (rounded numbers, hence why they add up to 101 percent).
Unfortunately, companies like Amazon and Newegg do not share the same kinds of stats with the public, so we are getting a narrow view. However, Grebe's comments underscore what Mindfactory's data seemingly indicates—AMD has pulled itself up by the bootstraps and is once again a competitive force.
Going forward, Intel has several products on tap. For example, we are starting to see laptop announcements based on Intel's 10nm Ice Lake CPUs, and on the desktop, the chipmaker is readying a Core i9-9900KS CPU with a 5GHz all-core Turbo boost, along with more high-end desktop (HEDT) solutions (Cascade Lake-X).
It will be interesting to see what manifests in 2020. The shift to 10nm is what enthusiasts have been waiting for, and that is finally starting to occur (in volume), albeit with lower power mobile parts. On the desktop, Intel is still milking its 14nm node. We expect that to change sometime next year.