Apple Eases Intel and x86 Dominance in PC Market

It took Apple less than a year to weaken the dominance of Intel and the entire x86 architecture in the PC market, which had lasted for decades. Dean McCarron, chief analyst at Mercury Research, is confident that Apple has provided the necessary momentum for Arm-compatible chips to divert some share of the desktop and laptop processor market.

Image source: Colin Behrens /

In the third quarter, Arm’s share of the PC chip market was 8%. For comparison, in the second quarter it was 7%, and in the third quarter of 2020, before the release of computers on the Apple M1 processor, it was limited to only 2%. Apple is phasing out Intel processors on Macs in favor of its own Arm chips, and the rise in global market share has been driven largely by strong Mac sales. Arm processors in Chromebooks accounted for a small share of the total. The relative number of such processors will continue to grow as users move away from Intel chips while upgrading their computers from Apple. It is possible that after that their growth will slow down.

Sales of chromebooks based on Arm-based processors are declining, and users of Windows-based PCs are in no hurry to choose models based on Qualcomm chips. Therefore, the flagship in this segment is still Apple, which in its lifetime managed to change several architectures for its products. Another negative factor for Intel remains AMD, which has been building on its success since 2017, when custom Ryzen and server Epyc came to market. And the background for all this is still the popularity of single-board computers based on Arm-processors, and first of all, the Raspberry Pi is also a kind of alternative to traditional PCs.

With the release of Ryzen and Epyc, AMD has partially caught up with Intel, with a full portfolio of offerings from office and gaming PC chips to server processors. Before Ryzen, the company did not rise above the competition with the Pentium and Core i3. In addition, Meta (formerly Facebook) announced that it will use AMD chips in its data centers. Intel’s Alder Lake family of chips announced last month will slightly slow down the competitor’s success, but we shouldn’t forget that CPUs are being partially supplanted by various accelerators such as GPUs and FPGAs, optimized for specific workloads. The situation is aggravated by the shortage of semiconductor components, which forces chip makers to increase the production of products in the upper price segment in order to compensate for costs.

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