Study: AMD tops Intel in retail desktops in late April

Desktop PCs with processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) outsold desktops based on processors from Intel Corp. for the week ending April 24, according to research released late last week from Current Analysis Inc.

Current Analysis has been tracking this market for only a few quarters, but the most recent results were a high-water mark for AMD, said Toni Duboise, an analyst with the California-based company.

This is the first time AMD-based desktops have surpassed Intel desktops since last November when the company began tracking the data, Duboise said.

"It represents how AMD is gaining strength and momentum within the consumer market," Duboise said. Sales of PCs with both the Athlon XP and the newer Athlon 64 improved not only in the low-end of the market where AMD has already enjoyed some success, but in higher-priced desktops, she said.

Intel still controls the overall market, especially among notebooks, the fastest growing segment of the PC market. Sixty-one percent of all PCs sold during the week ending April 24 came with Intel processors, and 81 percent of notebooks sold that week were powered by Intel processors, Duboise said.

Desktop sales still account for 60 percent of the overall PC market, and AMD has made its greatest strides against Intel in that category. PC companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co. have started to sell more and more AMD PCs at retail, including three new Pavilion models that helped AMD beat Intel for the week, Duboise said.

But desktop PCs based on Intel technology are about to get a boost with the introduction of the Grantsdale chipset expected this quarter. Grantsdale will improve overall system performance with support for the PCI Express interconnect technology, faster DDR2 (double data rate 2) memory, and an integrated wireless access point. Intel's desktop partners are expected to introduce new systems once Grantsdale is formally introduced.

Those new PCs will likely put Intel back on top of the retail desktop market later this year, Duboise said.

When it comes to general x86 processors shipped into the market, Intel still holds a clear lead over AMD, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research.

Intel shipped 83.6 percent of the desktop, notebook and server processors shipped to system builders and distributors in the first quarter, McCarron said. AMD shipped 14.9 percent of the processors in that category.

Despite the interest in AMD's Opteron processor, Intel still controls the market for servers based on the x86 instruction set with over 90 percent market share in that category. This helps explain why Intel's overall numbers are far better than AMD's despite the latter company's success at retail this quarter.

Overall, the processor market was down a little more in the first quarter than seasonal patterns usually reflect, McCarron said. The first half of the year is generally slower than the second half, when the PC market accelerates due to back-to-school and holiday shopping patterns.

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