Experts often tell us that the performance segment doesn’t really matter that much in the PC market. Sure, there is a minor halo effect, but people really don’t care if a Core 2 Duo is faster or if an Athlon 64 FX-55 is kicking ass – they buy on price. With the general volume of CPUs being in the hundreds of millions, the impact of a quad-core or the original FX really has no impact they say.
Really? In an utterly unscientific, statistically incorrect test, I decided to take the CPU market share numbers provided by iSuppli today and overlay the launch dates for several CPU models. If the performance of the original Athlon 64 X2 4800+ really didn’t matter to the public, we shouldn’t see any impact right?
Take a look for yourself. While statistics can lie, be distorted or stretched to prove almost anything, these numbers seem to support my position that who makes the fastest CPU still matters.
The latests numbers seem to show that AMD made inroads based on the performance of the Athlon 64 and really set the world on fire with the X2's. When Intel and AMD swapped performance places with the Core 2 Duo, Intel suddenly started taking back market share.
Of course, it would be wrong of me to lay this chart out without mentioning that other forces might have an impact. When Intel pumped out the Core 2 Duo, it also went on a mad rush to jettison every NetBurst-based CPU for a song and a dance. At the same time though, AMD finally made it into Dell boxes and engaged in its own firesale to get its CPUs moving again so why would the company lose share?
What’s the right answer? Who knows, but just like the fascination with how well Barry Bonds performs at AT&T park against left-handed pitchers when hot dog sales are up on Tuesdays, it’s always fun to crunch the numbers and wonder. I for one believe that Intel and AMD are doing their best when they’re making fast CPUs. When either tries to cover the performance gap with pricing schemes or marketing guff, the little line tends to go down.