Over the past year or so, Intel seems to have forgotten that they are in the processor business, letting their biggest competitor, AMD, gain ground. While Intel has not released any processors on upgraded architecture or smaller silicon footprints, AMD has continued to innovate, recently releasing 7nm chips. This constant forward movement from AMD has had a positive impact on the company, bringing their desktop market share to 18.3 percent and mobile share to 162 percent for the fourth quarter.
What it means for AMD and Intel
These gains are big news for both AMD and Intel, as an increase for AMD means a decrease for Intel. Considering AMD's nearly non-existant market share just a few years ago, it shows the importance of continued innovation in the PC space, despite the belief that the industry is in decline. In reality, the PC space has been growing for the past few quarters.
As they have pushed the processor business, the company has added hardware partners. While Microsoft has used AMD hardware for its Xbox products, the Surface line has always been Intel. That is until this generation, where a custom AMD Ryzen option was added to the lineup for some new models. There has also been an increase in the number of available laptops running Ryzen mobile processors, helping to lead to the 4 percent increase over last year.
A new partner emerges
A new partner might be about to appear - Apple. According to some code in macOS, five new hardware pieces from AMD have support added, including system processors. The company has been rumored to be looking for a way out with Intel, with the most common rumor pointing to an Apple-designed ARM processor. However, as everyone in the industry has noted, switching to ARM processors would mean huge changes for developers and users. However, a switch to AMD (which Apple already uses for video hardware) would be a lateral move for both groups.
This move could indicate a change for both Apple and Intel. For Intel, it would be the first potential complete loss of a hardware partner, one that made a big move years ago to switch from Motorola to Intel. But, the biggest signal is from Apple, which has mostly ignored their computer business for the past decade. As the tablet market shrinks and the PC market grows, they might be ready to put effort into that division once again.