Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Thursday, September 20, 2018
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AMD Continues to Nip at Intel’s Heels 

Advanced Micro Devices appears to making market share headway at the expense of long-time rival Intel Corp. based on quarterly results released this week.

AMD reported quarterly revenue totaling $1.65 billion, up 40 percent from the same quarter last year. The big gains prompted observers to suggest AMD has grabbed market share from Intel, which also reported strong quarterly results as both chip makers benefit from heightened big data processing demand in datacenters.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), which reported quarterly revenues of $16.1 billion, cited heavy datacenter demand for its Xeon Scalable processors (codenamed “Purley”) for a range of emerging datacenter workloads, including AI. The results reflect “unrelenting demand for compute performance fueled by the growth of data," Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Thursday (April 26).

Global chip rankings have been shuffled in the last year as a result of soaring demand and prices for non-volatile memory for storage applications. The resulting realignment catapulted Samsung Electronics (KRX: 005930) into the lead among global chipmakers, overtaking Intel for the first time.

On the strength of its GPUs and other processors, AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) continues to nip at Intel’s heels. While much of AMD’s strong growth stems from its graphics chips, CEO Lisa Su noted this week that AMD is making inroads in enterprise datacenters with its EPYC server processor line. Those gains are thought to come at the expense of Intel.

AMD noted that Dell EMC recently introduced new datacenter platforms based on the chip maker’s EPYC 7000 series server processors. Last year, AMD announced new datacenter partners in China along with a design win with Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) for the cloud giant’s new GPU instance design to accelerate graphics. The new instance is based on AMD’s FirePro S7150x2 Server GPUs equipped with AMD Multiuser GPU technology.

The data-driven boom in processor demand has both chip makers revising upward their revenue estimates for the coming quarter. Intel raised its quarterly revenue guidance to $16.8 billion.

Despite AMD’s market gains, Intel continues to benefit from a diversified chip portfolio that includes strong demand for FPGAs frequently used to accelerate datacenter platforms. Nevertheless, market analysts note AMD’s sustained growth, including double-digit annual revenue growth, as reasons for optimism, especially as the chip maker continues to ramp its EPYC server deployments.

Among them is Cray’s addition of EPYC processors to its CS5000 line of HPC platforms.

Whether AMD can maintain its current momentum remains to be seen, however, since its net income was lower, capital expenditures during its first quarter doubled and it “continues to burn cash,” noted investor Michael Wiggins De Oliveira.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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