Evidence the worst may be over for AMD's market share drop

The plunge in AMD's worldwide CPU market share in 2007 may have finally stopped in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the most recent statistics from hardware market analysis firm iSuppli.

Though the gap between it and Intel widened by 7.3 points of market share by revenue (as opposed to units shipped) for the total year 2007, the tick went up for AMD in the fourth quarter -- by pretty much as small as a tick, 0.3%, according to iSuppli's latest figures supplied to BetaNews this morning.

ISuppli's report was preliminary, and has yet to take final revenue figures into account, principal analyst Matthew Wilkins believes that strong fourth quarter PC sales -- up 14.2% overall over the same quarter in 2006 -- gave AMD some much needed relief.

It was Barcelona, it turns out -- AMD's native quad-core architecture -- which hurt the company most last year due to delays in implementation, and problems cropping up after it shipped. But that negative impact was felt most in the server sales department, as the company acknowledged last week during its quarterly earnings report.

Servers don't usually make good Christmas gifts, and as such aren't particularly impacted by consumer sentiment. So the strong holiday quarter helped consumer CPU sales, where AMD wasn't hurting as badly.

Despite the fact that AMD is one full process generation behind Intel now, it still has one architectural advantage that Wilkins believes AMD must press now: the fact that its architecture truly does put four cores on one die, rather than two cores on two like Intel. "However, the Barcelona delay has reduced the timeframe during which AMD can press that advantage," Wilkins writes.

ISuppli is expecting a revived Barcelona to finally "hit its stride" in the remainder of 2008, though it will have to weather a bad worldwide economy while it grapples with Intel.

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