Despite great changes within the global microprocessor industry in 2010, Intel and AMD managed to keep one constant - their ranking positions in the market.
IHS iSuppli research has found that Intel finished the year with an 81 percent share of global microprocessor revenue, and it also grew with a 0.4 percentage points from 80.6 percent in 2009. This, the company said, allowed it to maintain leadership.
Intel is so far ahead of the pack it must be laughing in this segment, while AMD but suffered some setbacks. The company ended the year with 11.4 percent share. However, unlike Intel, it slid down by 0.8 points from 12.2 percent in 2009.
The research outfit said that 2010 "was a period of major transitions in the microprocessor market," with suppliers facing a range of changes. These included the "new competitive threat posed by media tablets to the robust post-recession recovery, to the technology revolution spurred by the rise of graphics-enabled microprocessors (GEMs),” said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst, compute platforms, for IHS.
Despite these developments, the competitive state of affairs remained very much the same two-horse race it has been for over 20 years. Of course Intel was on top here with AMD trailing behind.
Plucky AMD didn't go down without a fight, with the two locked in a battle to squeeze every cent from original equipment manufacturers.
The market made a sharp comeback in 2010 compared to the slow 2009 it experienced along with most of the world. Revenue in 2010 surged 25 percent to $40 billion, compared to a 6 percent decline in 2009.
Although the microprocessor market traditionally has been dominated by sales of Intel and AMD X86 products to the PC market, 2010 saw that new kid on the block in the shape of the media tablet.
Apple of course led the gang here with its iPad - which employed a non-X86 device at its heart designed by Apple and manufactured by Samsung. IHS predicts that unit shipments of media tablets soared to 17.4 million in 2010, up from zero in 2009.
Levels are expected to mature to over 240 million units shipped in 2015. As a result, semiconductor revenue will provide significant opportunity not just for suppliers such as Samsung, which is already present in the fledgling tablet market, but also for PC processor incumbents AMD and Intel.
The PC microprocessor market was buoyant in 2010 with graphics-enabled microprocessors (GEMs) accounting for a large portion of total sales in 2010.
GEMs represented more than one-third of total microprocessor shipments for notebook and desktop PCs alike in 2010.
Intel and AMD announced GEM products targeting the mainstream notebook and desktop segments in 2010. And this of course signified another race between the two.
That said, AMD didn't waltz across any finishing lines. In the overall processor market Intel accounted for 81.5 percent of global microprocessor revenue during 2010, gaining 0.5 percent of share compared to a year ago in the fourth quarter of 2009.
AMD lost market share in both sequential and year-over comparisons. Its greatest loss here was during the fourth quarter of 2009.