AMD has been making inroads into Intel's dominion for many years now, since the launch of the first Ryzen desktop CPU in 2017. From there, it's built its best desktop CPUs in the Ryzen 5000-series processors, and its Zen 2 architecture has found a forever home inside the Xbox Series X/S (opens in new tab) and PlayStation 5 (opens in new tab). What that means today is more people are playing games, editing videos, and deleting spam emails on AMD hardware than ever before.
AMD accounted for 25.6% of the entire CPU market in Q4, 2021, according to Mercury Research (opens in new tab), a research company often cited by big names in the tech biz. What that means is AMD accounted for a quarter of all PC CPUs, server CPUs, embedded chips, and semi-custom products during that three month period, leaving Intel to gobble up the largest slice of the pie at 74.4%. There's also the nominal 0% credited to VIA, the only other x86 licensee.
Mercury Research partially chalks that up to a very large increase in gaming console shipments during the October–December period, which is to be expected to try and meet the demand of the busy holiday season. Demand wouldn't be entirely satiated, of course, as we're still in a global semiconductor shortage, but it's still a busy time of year nonetheless.
If you look to just desktop CPU supply, AMD has actually lost some ground to Intel over that same period, dropping 0.8%. Same goes for mobile share, where it dropped 0.4% for the quarter despite being up overall for the entire year. AMD has made some of that up in server share with its EPYC chips, at least, gaining 0.6% during those final three months of 2021.
AMD's previous record quarter was during the hazy days of 2006. Its Q4 then saw it hit 25.3% market share, during which time its Athlon and Opteron chips were giving Intel a good kicking.
AMD nearly beat its own 2006 record back in Q3 2021, where AMD placed its market share at 24.6%.
Best CPU for gaming (opens in new tab): the top chips from Intel and AMD
Best graphics card (opens in new tab): your perfect pixel-pusher awaits
Best SSD for gaming (opens in new tab): get into the game ahead of the rest
In today's market, it's once again AMD's kickback at Intel that has helped it make headway into the market. AMD Ryzen processors have pretty consistently offered great value for their performance, though more than that just felt the more technologically advanced chip out of AMD and Intel's offerings.
That's not so true of its Ryzen 5000-series now versus Intel's 12th Gen Alder Lake chips, though AMD should have an answer to that threat in its Zen 4 processors later this year.
Both Intel and AMD enjoyed a great year in 2021 overall. In total, there were more x86 units sold in 2021 than ever, making for a very lucrative year for both companies. In total, x86 revenue was up 10.6% in 2021, from 2020's $66.6B to $74B.
Speaking of big numbers, and completing the PC gamer triumvirate, Nvidia also topped Meta this week to become the 7th largest company in the US (opens in new tab). So it's not just the red team in the limelight right now.