More people are using AMD CPUs than ever before

AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPU showing its chiplet based design
(Image credit: AMD)

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 and PlayStation 5. 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, 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%.

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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. So it's not just the red team in the limelight right now.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.