European retailer Mindfactory.de has released an updated report on AMD and Intel CPU sales, month-by-month. This sort of information is obviously limited. We can only see what’s happening at Mindfactory, and that might be different from what’s going on another retailer. But with those caveats understood, there’s a lot of good material here.
Mindfactory has released information on both revenue share (which is to say, the percent of its earnings accounted for by either CPU company) and its unit shipments (the total number of CPU’s sold). The ratio between the two figures provides insight into which company has had more success moving its upper-end hardware. To avoid having to write out the convention each and every time, we’ll just say this once: All of the references in this story to AMD and Intel unit shipments, market share, and product positioning should be understood as applying specifically to Mindfactory.de and this data set unless specifically stated otherwise. Hat tip to Overclock3D.net for the find.
As far as unit shipments are concerned, AMD has done beautifully. From Oct 2017 to March 2018, AMD’s share of unit shipments fell compared with Intel. Things stabilized from April – August, with AMD bumping along at 45 to 51 percent of sales. In September, however, unit shipments of AMD parts surged. In November 2017, Mindfactory moved ~16,700 chips total. In November 2018, it sure looks as though AMD moved that many chips itself.
But AMD hasn’t just seized more market share. It’s seizing that market share with a better range of chips in 2018 than it did in 2017. Back in October 2017, the R5 1600 and R5 1600X were AMD’s top sellers by volume, with the R7 1700X picking up respectable share as well. That fat yellow bar that starts appearing in Intel’s product graph is the Core i7-8700K, and you can see the impact it had both on Intel’s shipments and, in a moment, overall revenue. It’s an extremely consistent part that’s proven quite popular all year. The i3-8100 and i5-8600K also account for a significant percentage of the company’s CPU sales, though not as much as the 8700K.
The big break for AMD is with the Ryzen 5 2600, and Ryzen 7 2700X. These are the chips that have become markedly more popular since August. But despite what you might expect given its performance, Threadripper is a virtual non-presence in these charts. Reviewers have generally praised the chip and AMD’s pricing, but that hasn’t translated to sales. Not in this data, anyway.
Now, let’s look at the revenue chart:
This graph looks quite different. The Core i7-8700K is a fabulous profit-driver for Mindfactory, and it keeps a majority of revenue on Intel’s side of the equation. Here, we do see evidence of Threadripper, starting in August. Clearly, some of these chips are selling, but not very many at all. AMD’s surge in revenue share has come principally from the R5 2600, R5 2600X, R7 2700, and R7 2700X. Intel’s profits, as of November, were being drawn primarily from the i5-8600K, i7-8700K, and Core i9-9900K.
By comparing the AMD market share figures against its total revenue, we can see that AMD chips continue to pull in substantially less cash per sale, even from the retailers’ perspective. AMD’s 56 percent revenue share in November is significantly smaller than its 69 percent share of total units. This makes a certain amount of sense. Much of the writing about Ryzen has focused on the fact that while AMD may not beat Intel in every test, it often offers very strong performance for the cost at advantageous ratios compared with Intel. It makes sense that the company’s customers would look to lower-cost hardware and the best deals to be had.
AMD’s decision to trim its core pricing may also have helped its ascent. In October 2017, the highest-earning AMD chips were the R5 1600, R5 1600X, and the R7 1700X. Launch price on those cores was $219, $249, and $400 respectively. Today, AMD’s top earners are the R5 2600, R5 2600X, and the R7 2700X. Launch price on these parts was $199, $229, and $329, respectively. AMD’s lower pricing appears to hit the sweet spot target better. It’s also possible that customers waited to see what Intel’s 9900K would look like before buying, or that AMD ran some great sales from September through November to goose uptake.
Based on the strong performance of the R7 1700X, you might expect the R7 2700 to be an equally strong player. That does not appear to have happened, however. The R7 2700 commands a much smaller share of the pie than the R7 1700X did. As a final mention, both the R5 2400G and R3 2200G have sold well since introduction. They may not be top earners, but both of these chips have padded AMD’s product family out nicely. Intel’s strongest chips, by far, are at the top of its CPU stack; none of AMD’s chips matched the consistent monthly performance of the Core i7-8700K over the course of the entire year.
Again, this data all relate to one specific retailer, but these breakdowns show some very interesting reasons about the relationship between AMD’s CPU sales and earned revenue, the impact parts like the Core i7-8700K have on Intel’s overall position and the relative paucity of Threadripper sales. Take the data with a grain of salt, but if these figures hold true, AMD should have some cheerful news to report late in January.
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