What a difference a year makes when it comes to the fortunes of AMD, the only real rival to Intel in PC processors, but one that was increasingly falling behind the market leader, especially in the profitable and influential high-end segment. An afterthought to performance PC buyers in 2016, AMD is back in the game in 2017 with the release of its warmly received Ryzen chip family, which delivers much of the power of Intel's Core CPUs at a noticeably lower cost.
In the few months since the first Ryzen processors have been released, we've witnessed a few signs that AMD has succeeded in not only blunting but also undoing some of Intel's massive sales advantage. Revenue figures for Q1 were stronger thanks to Ryzen, which offset AMD's declining numbers in mobile and graphics chips, and the impact to the company's bottom line should only increase as the firm rolls out its Ryzen Pro enterprise processor platform.
Now we have a new slice of information that suggests the Ryzen is chipping away at Intel's considerable lead with the enthusiasts that both companies covet. According to PassMark, which publishes a benchmarking utility called PerformanceTest, the launch of Ryzen chips has resulted in a surge in AMD's share of its CPUs being tested.
As HotHardware summarizes, by the end of 2016, only 17.8 percent of PassMark testing was being completed on AMD CPUs, a nearly 3 percent drop from the beginning of the year. However, at the midpoint of 2017, that share has rebounded to 26.2 percent, a quick increase that should at least put Intel on notice, despite its still-dominant market share.
Ryzen chips now occupy 2 of the top 15 slots on PassMark's CPU popularity list over the last 90 days, with the mainstream Ryzen 5 1600 in the fifth position, and the higher-end AMD Ryzen 7 1700 occupying position 14. While that is encouraging news for the manufacturer, it still has a ways to go in terms of the hardest of the hardcore CPU users: In the overclocked CPUs category, Intel still holds the first 30-odd slots, with the Ryzen 7 1800X being the first AMD processors on that list.
AMD hopes to increase its visibility with this segment soon with the forthcoming release of its Ryzen ThreadRipper CPU, a 16-core chip that will battle Intel's new Core X-series of CPUs, including the 18-core Core i9 Extreme Edition.
The success of generations of Intel's Core family of processors means the chip leader is in no danger of being toppled from its perch anytime soon, but the apparently successful launch of Ryzen may return AMD to what it once was: a real rival in desktop PC processors whose price/performance ratio could provide a counterweight to the Intel juggernaut.