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Intel-AMD MPU War Over, We're All Winners

It's officially time to call an end to the microprocessor war between Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. War implies that there will be an ultimate victor and a vanquished, a result that's increasingly apparent will not be occurring any time this decade.
It's officially time to call an end to the microprocessor war between Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. War implies that there will be an ultimate victor and a vanquished, a result that's increasingly apparent will not be occurring any time this decade.For the better part of three decades it appeared the only reason that semiconductor giant Intel didn't squash the annoying but inconsequential gnat that was AMD under its thumb was so that it could keep AMD alive as an underachieving competitor it could point to when some called it out for alleged monopolistic or antitrust practices.

As 2005 drew to a close, however, AMD boosted its share of the x86 microprocessor market to 21%, according to Mercury Research. It now appears quite likely that the little train that for so long couldn't, now can, and market share of 25% or greater is around the next bend.

AMD has also gained respect from analysts and IT professionals for being able to do more with less. Intel's capital and R&D budgets dwarf AMD's, and yet AMD has been able to grab a technology advantage over the past two years that it is unlikely relinquish until the end of this year, if at all. Intel maintains about a year in front of AMD in getting the most advanced manufacturing technologies into market, but AMD excels in getting higher performance from older generation technologies.

Intel remains the 800-pound gorilla of the semiconductor industry. It has the size. It has the clout. It seems highly unlikely that AMD could ever expect to overtake Intel as the volume producer of microprocessors. AMD, however, is firmly secure now as a major contributor of both technology and volume, particularly as it has expanded its position as provider of processors used in enterprise applications. Ninety of the 100 largest companies in the world now use AMD processors to some extent within their enterprise.

The two companies will continue to battle, or skirmish, leapfrogging each other regularly in some particular technology, feature, or capability. But anyone waiting for an ultimate champion is focused on the wrong metric. The winners are consumers of processors from two companies that are now truly engaged in long-term competition on a relatively level playing field.