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AMD's CPU Market Share and Revenue Jump as Apple's M1 Arm Chips Rise in PCs

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AMD vs Intel market share

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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AMD vs Intel market share

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Mercury Research CPU market share results are in for the second quarter of 2021, showing that AMD has lost share in desktop PCs as it prioritized the production of higher-margin SKUs and server and notebook chips, thus boosting its share of overall revenue.

We also learned a bit of new information on the Arm front: Mercury Research's Dean McCarron also tells us that Arm-based CPUs continue to grow on strong sales of Chromebooks and as Apple's Arm-powered M1 processors gain traction, saying, "Based on our estimates ARM has approximately a 7 percent share of PC processors if they're included in the share calculations, up from approximately 5 percent last quarter and less than 2 percent a year ago."

There's plenty of movement on the x86 side of the market, too. AMD has access to a finite amount of production capacity, so the company continued to focus on producing its highest-margin products, leading to the company shedding 2.3 percentage points of the Desktop PC market, landing at a 17.1% share of the segment. However, those regressions might not be as problematic as they appear on the surface due to AMD's shift to producing pricier chips that generate more profit. (We have the full breakdown for each segment at the end of the article).

AMD also clearly prioritized production of its notebook chips as it gained 1.9 percentage points to brings its laptop unit share up to an even 20%, clawing back some of the ground it lost in prior quarters.

Things were even rosier for AMD's server business. According to Mercury Research, both it and Intel saw more than 10% unit growth during the quarter. AMD gained share during this period (+0.6pp), reaching 9.5% of the market, a high for recent times.

However, as we'll cover a bit more in-depth in the server breakout below, McCarron's numbers include all types of servers, whereas some reports that narrow the competitive landscape down (to only the areas AMD competes in) reports that AMD has reached 15% of the server market (with Arm at 4%) during the quarter.

Regardless of how you measure the server segment, AMD continues to gain share, with McCarron commenting that, "Additionally, we believe AMD set a new record for both server CPU units and revenues." 

McCarron Research

(Image credit: McCarron Research)

That's borne out in the revenue share numbers from the report — AMD continues to increase its revenue as it shifts its production to higher-margin chips and capitalizes on its performance leadership with higher prices for its chips than we've seen in the past. 

AMD has also taken its highest share of the overall PC market since 2007 with 22.5%, but the company also hit 22.4% of the market in Q3 of last year, so that's only a slight overall advance.  

The overall desktop PC market weighed in at a record $18 billion in revenue during the second quarter, even though the number of units shipped didn't set a record. That's yet another sign that the average pricing of CPUs remains high. According to McCarron, more than 120 million CPUs were shipped per quarter for the past three quarters, which is much higher than the 90 million units per quarter in the pre-Covid era.

Be aware that the table above only covers revenue. Below you'll find the specific unit share numbers for each segment, complete with historical data and a bit more information on the server market share numbers. 

AMD vs. Intel Desktop PC Market Share Q2 2021 

AMD Desktop Unit Share17.1%19.3%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)-2.3 / -2.1+0.1 / +0.7-0.8 / +1.0+0.9 / +2.1+0.6 / +2.1+0.3 / +1.5+0.3 / +2.4+0.9 / +5Flat / +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 vs. Intel Notebook / Mobile Market Share Q2 2021

AMD Mobile Unit Share20.0%18.0%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)+1.9 / +0.01-1.0 / +1.1-1.2 / +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 / ?

AMD vs. Intel Server Unit Market Share Q2 2021

AMD Server Unit Share9.5%8.9%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)+0.6 / +3.7+1.8 / +3.8+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 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."

Below we can see a bit of a different take with a methodology:

AMD vs Intel Market Share

(Image credit: Omida)

This report comes from market research firm Omida that uses a different methodology, indicating that AMD has set a recent record with 15% market share. This report also finds Arm server share at 4%, with predictions that it will reach 14% of the overall server market in 2025.  

AMD vs. Intel Total Market Share Q2 2021

AMD Overall x8622.5%20.7%21.7%22.4%18.3%14.8%15.1%14.6%13.9%12.3%10.6%
Overall PP Change QoQ / YoY+1.8 / +4.2-1.0 / +6.0 -0.7 / +6.2+4.1 / +6.6+3.5 / +1.2 (+3.7?)-0.7 / ?+0.9 / +3.2+0.7 / +4??-

Whereas other segments exclude IoT and semi-custom (like AMD's game console business), this accounting of the overall x86 market also includes those products. 

Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.