AMD Sales Are Booming, but High-End Ryzen 3000 CPUs Still in Short Supply


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After the Ryzen 3000 family debuted on 7nm, German retailer Mindfactory.de released data from its own CPU sales showing that demand for the smaller CPU manufacturer’s products had skyrocketed. That demand continued straight through August, but product shortages may be hampering overall sales.

Once again, Ingebor on Reddit has shared data on CPUSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce sales, CPU revenue share, and average selling prices. The results are once again a major win for AMD, though overall shipments declined this month compared with July.

Mindfactory-Sept

While the absolute number of CPUs fell, AMD held virtually the same market share. Sales of second-generation products continue to be strong, even with third-gen Ryzen in-market. On the AMD side, shipments of the Ryzen 9 3900X fell, as did sales of the Ryzen 7 3700X, and 3800X. The Ryzen 5 3600 substantially expanded its overall market share. Intel shipments appear to have been virtually identical, in terms of which CPU SKUs were selling the best.

Mindfactory-Sept-Revenue

Now we look at the market in terms of revenue. Intel’s share is higher here, thanks to higher selling prices. The Ryzen 9 3900X made a significantly smaller revenue contribution in August, as did the Ryzen 7 3700X. Sometimes the revenue graphs show us a different side of performance compared with sales charts, but this month the two graphs generally line up as expected.

One place where the Ryzen 5 3600’s share gains definitely hit AMD is in terms of its average selling price. In June, AMD’s ASP in Euros was €238.89. In August, it slipped downwards, to €216.04, a decline of 10.5 percent. Intel’s ASPs actually improved slightly, from €296.87 to €308.36, a gain of ~4 percent. This could be read as suggesting that a few buyers saw what AMD had to offer and opted to buy a high-end Core CPUSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce instead. And on Reddit, Ingebor notes that low availability on the Ryzen 9 3900X definitely hit AMD’s revenue share, writing:

Except for the 3900X, all Matisse CPUs where available for most of the time and sold pretty well (not so much the 3800X, which dropped in price sharply towards the end of the month). These shortages can be seen in the revenue drop and a lower average sales price compared to last month.

For most of the month, the 3900X was unavailable with a date of availability constantly pushed out by mindfactory. Seems like the amount of CPUs they got do not suffice to satisfy their backlog of orders. The next date is the 6th of September. Hopefully the next month will finally see some decent availability. Also it remains to be seen when the 3950X will start to sell and whether it will be in better supply.

Ingebor also noted that there’s been no hint of official Intel price cuts, despite rumors that the company might respond to 7nm Ryzen CPUs by enacting them.

The Limits of Retail Analysis

It’s incredibly useful that Mindfactory releases this information, but keep in mind that it represents sales at one company, in one country. We don’t doubt that AMD is seeing sales growth across its 7nm product lines, but the retail channel is a subset of the desktop market, and the desktop market is dwarfed by the laptop market.

Statista-PC-Market-Share

Data from Statista makes the point. Even if we ignore tablets, only about 36.7 percent of the computing market is desktops. Trying to estimate the size of the PC retail channel is difficult; figures I’ve seen in the past suggest it’s 10-20 percent of the space. If true, that would suggest Mindfactory, Newegg, Amazon, and similar companies collectively account for 3.6 to 7.3 percent of the overall PC market. AMD and Intel split this space, with the size of the split depending on the relative competitive standing of each company, hardware availability in the local market, and any country-specific preferences for one vendor versus the other.

This is why you’ll see websites write stories about how AMD is dominating sales at a specific retailer, followed by stories that show a relatively small gain in total market share. It’s not that either story is necessarily wrong; they capture different markets.

Overall, AMD is in a strong competitive position at the moment. Just keep in mind that data sets like this, while valuable and interesting, only capture a small section of the overall space.

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AMD Working to Get More Ryzen 7 3800X, 3900X CPUs in Market


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When we attended E3 in June for AMD’s Ryzen launch event, company CEO Lisa Su made a curious reference to the long-rumored 16-core CPU. According to her, AMD hadn’t held off on announcing the chip due to competitive reasons, or to see what Intel had in its own pocket, but simply because they wanted to provide a little extra oomph to the E3 launch event. The 16-core CPU, we were told, wouldn’t launch until September — several months after the Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 7 3800X.

Several weeks after AMD launched its new Ryzen 7 3700X, 3800X, and 3900X, we have some indication of why the company took this step. The Ryzen 7 3700XSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce appears to be broadly in-market, but the Ryzen 7 3800X and particularly the 3900X are scarce. Prices on the 3900X have spiked on eBay, up to $800 or more in some cases. Don’t pay spiking eBay prices.

We reached out to AMD about this situation and received the following reply from an AMD spokesperson:

AMD is excited to see the overwhelmingly positive customer response to our 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen desktop processors. The consistently high demand continues to exceed supply for certain Ryzen processors. We are working to replenish stock with global etail and retail partners as quickly as possible. We are thankful for the fast-growing AMD Ryzen community, and appreciate the patience of all gamers and enthusiasts who are actively pursuing specific harder-to-find Ryzen models.

Is this the specter of the dreaded Paper Launch? No. At the very least, not yet. Manufacturers stockpile hardware months ahead of time for the parts they expect to sell, but they have to feed both the retail channel (sometimes just called “the channel”) and the network of OEMs that buy chips in bulk. We don’t know how AMD prioritized its early shipments.

So why isn’t this a paper launch? Two reasons: First, a review of sites like NowInStock.net shows that Ryzen 9 3900X’s are available — just not for very long when they show up in stock.

Ryzen-Availability

8-minute order windows are basically straight rage fuel — but there *are* parts hitting the market. Just not enough of them, yet.

The second factor is time. We historically give companies more than just three weeks to demonstrate product availability. I took both AMD and Nvidia to task back in 2016 for their mutual failure to bring 14/16nm GPUs to-market in sufficient quantities to avoid the appearance of a paper launch. In that instance, however, far more time had passed.

Nvidia launched Pascal at the end of May but Pascal cards were still quite difficult to find in early September, over three months later. AMD had launched the Radeon RX 400 series in late June/early July, which means these cards had also had 6-8 weeks to hit regular availability. The 3800X and 3900X have been in-market for just over three weeks.

We don’t know exactly when the Ryzen 7 3950X is launching beyond “September,” but if we hit that date and the availability issues on the 3900X haven’t cleared up, that’ll look pretty poor. Our bet, however, is that the company held off on introducing its 16-core CPU precisely to avoid putting even more pressure on its early launch. By the time we get to the 3950X’s debut, availability on lower-market parts will hopefully be a solved problem. If not, you’ll read about it here.

As a final note, AMD reports Q2 results on July 30, but we won’t see any sales results for 7nm Ryzen chips in these figures. We won’t know the impact of the Ryzen 7 3700X, 3800X, and 3900X until the end of Q3.

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Intel Is Finally Shipping Ice Lake in Volume


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During Intel’s quarterly conference call last week, CEO Bob Swan confirmed that the company is, at long last, moving into volume production on 10nm. If you thought Intel had basically given up on scaling its process technology into the new node, that’s not the case.

Swan made a number of comments related to 10nm during the call. Ice Lake servers have been sampled to enterprise customers, with early production expected in 1H 2020 and volume production in the back half of the year. Cooper Lake (14nm) will share a platform with Ice Lake when those server parts launch in 2020. Regarding 10nm client launches, Swan said:

We began shipping Ice Lake clients in the second quarter supporting systems on the shelf for the holiday selling season and expect to ship Agilex, our first 10-nanometer FPGA later this year.

We now have two factories in full production on 10-nanometer. We are also on track to launch 7-nanometer in 2021. With a roughly 2x improvement in density over 10-nanometer, our 7-nanometer process, which will be comparable to competitors’ 5-nanometer nodes, and will put us on pace with historical Moore’s Law scaling.

Mobile in Q4 2019, Server in 2H 2020, Desktop …

Intel’s current plans for Ice Lake/Sunny Cove in its desktop CPUSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce product families are unclear. If a Dell roadmap that leaked earlier this year is accurate, Comet Lake will refresh Intel’s product line through Q4 2020 with up to 10 cores, but still built on 14nm. We’ve seen various predictions about the state of Hyper-Threading; the most recent ones claimed Intel will reactivate it after removing it for the 9th Generation family. Restoring Hyper-Threading support would definitely improve performance compared with not-having it on various parts, but whether Intel will actually take this step is still uncertain.

Swan was actually rather open about expecting competitive pressure from AMD. While Intel has been talking a great deal about the possibilities of a $300B expanded TAM (based on the full valuation of the spaces Intel competes in), he also took care to say that Intel expects to be facing a reinvigorated AMD.

“Stepping back and just looking at the macro environment over the next several years and particularly in the second half of the year on the data center side, what we’ve indicated is it will be a much more competitive environment,” Swan said. Later in the call, he spoke to the topic again:

And our expectations over time are to protect our market share position, while continuing to invest in new prospects for growth… I’d say the competitive intensity on the PC side started probably in the first part of 2017. And during that time frame, we’ve either protect our position, while moving end customers up to higher performance products that generate higher ASPs and with that have the capacity also to fight back and meet comps in targeted areas, where we need to.

This is pretty frank talk, by Wall Street standards. The one thing Swan doesn’t do is speak to when we might see Ice Lake/Sunny Cove CPUs on desktops. Right now, it looks as though we’re still looking at a 2021 time frame for desktop 10nm, and 7nm chips are supposed to debut that year as well, though Intel has committed to leading the 7nm charge with GPUs, not CPUs.

Intel-Skylake-Summary

The Ice Lake mobile CPUs that Intel has unveiled to date are reputed to be up to 1.18x more efficient than Intel’s old Sky Lake CPUs in terms of IPC, but Intel has given back a great deal of its clock speed gains over the past four years to deliver that improvement. The Skylake Core i7-6660U was a 2.4GHz CPU with a 3.4GHz maximum clock speed. Ice Lake is 1.18x faster in terms of IPC and runs at up to 4.1GHz. The real-world gains should, therefore, be significantly larger, once clock and IPC are both factored in — except, Ice Lake is the follow-up to Whiskey Lake, and the improvements relative to that chip are less certain. With a 4.8GHz single-core maximum, Whiskey Lake was clocked up to 1.41x faster than Skylake in the first place.

In short, it’s possible Ice Lake will be much faster than Skylake but roughly on par with Whiskey Lake. Given that we have no idea what the performance or power characteristics of Intel’s next-generation mobile GPU are, we’d also need to know how its power consumption and capabilities factor into Intel’s maximum defined clock speeds. The GPU configuration is much wider on these new chips, and that could definitely be eating into the total headroom Intel gives these processors. 15W, after all, is not a terribly large envelope.

With Intel’s 10nm desktop chips nowhere in sight and AMD’s latest Ryzen 3000 APUsSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce still based on its 12nm second-generation Ryzen refresh, we have an amusing situation to consider. Even once Intel has shipped 10nm chips, its 10nm chips will not compete against AMD’s 7nm chips. That won’t happen until either AMD ships 7nm mobile parts or Intel ships 10nm desktop and server parts. We haven’t heard anything about a 7nm APU refresh in 2019. Assuming AMD doesn’t pull one of its hat, we may not see AMD 7nm face-off with Intel 10nm until sometime between April and June 2020.

Granted, I don’t think AMD is going to complain about having room to stretch its metaphorical legs. But normally when two companies start talking about their cutting-edge process node deployments, we expect to actually see CPUs facing off against each other shortly thereafter.

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