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TechMike's Tech Crystal Ball – Will Intel Continue to Dominate the Enterprise Server Market?

 

For those who regularly check in on our TechTalk blog, you know that we usually focus on Tech How To's and answering common customer questions. We've decided to mix it up and peer into our TechMike's Crystal Ball to view Tech's future.  These are the topics on our minds, so we imagine they are on your collective minds' as well! 

Here is our take on if Intel will continue to dominate the enterprise server market, but feel free to let us know what you think (and maybe you know something we don't!).

Intel has been the dominant player in the processor market in both the consumer and enterprise domains.  However, recent developments have sullied Intel's luster.  What does the future hold for Intel processors, specifically in the realm of Enterprise servers?  Will they still be the dominant player in five years? Or is the tide starting to turn towards their main competitor in the Enterprise processor market, AMD? 

There is no question Intel – once synonymous with processors – has hit a rough patch.  For the past two years, Intel's reputation has been hurt by supply chain issues that have hampered PC manufacturers' sales.   Additionally, AMD has taken over the market share of desktop/tower processors, driven by their focus on gaming processors and GPUs.  Even Apple, a reliable Intel customer for fifteen years, announced that they were moving away from Intel processors to their M1 chip in June of last year.  Apple may be setting the trend, as other tech giants have begun developing their own in-house, custom chips based on ARM architecture.  

Indeed, in the consumer market, Intel is feeling the heat.  But what about the enterprise market, specifically rack servers for datacenters and server farms?  While Intel processors are estimated to have a 92% market share of the processors in enterprise servers, AMD has been making gains. Intel's stock recently suffered one of its worst days of 2021 – precisely because analysts see AMD poaching on Intel's datacenter share. 

Is Intel's market share lead insurmountable?  Or is AMD's momentum pointing towards a major landscape change in enterprise server processors? 

TechMike's Take

At TechMikeNY, we like to focus on the Tech. While we haven't tested many AMD-based servers at TechMikeNY – primarily because many have yet to come through the secondary market pipeline – there is no question that AMD's EPYC processor has gotten strong reviews, beating Xeon in several benchmarks.    

 IN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE: For the past couple of months, at TechMikeNY, we’ve noticed more customer inquiries for AMD-based servers due to their higher core count.  More anecdotal proof that AMD is getting hot!

 

At the same time, it would be foolhardy to write off Intel just yet.  There is that old tech chestnut, "Nobody got fired for buying IBM." Do datacenter admins and techs trust AMD processors for mission-critical services?  More importantly, can OEM server manufacturers count on AMD's supply chain and their ability to deliver at a larger scale?  Intel has been in the business for a long time, having cultivated relationships with these server manufacturers.  What tricks or enticements will they pull out of the hat to avoid losing this critical revenue stream? 

 Lastly, consider the issue of compatibility.  While RAM and hard drives are interchangeable between server models, it's not the case with processors.  Processors are tied to the system board socket. While Intel's servers are not compatible cross-generationally, you can take an Intel processor of the same generation and install it into a compatible system board.  By introducing several AMD-based servers into a server farm environment, will that impact datacenter techs in flexibility and spare parts?

Our Bold Prediction

We expect major server manufacturers to mix in more AMD-based devices in their product lines.  Gone are the days of Intel being the overwhelming market leader.  That said, Intel is such an established player with such deep R&D resources and an industry footprint, we don't expect AMD to break over 50% of the enterprise market share.  

Have a different take?  Know something we don't? Don't hold back, and let us know!  We want a lively debate and don't mind if you disagree! (As long as we all agree that TechMikeNY is the go-to place for top-notch refurbished IT equipment with unparalleled customer support!)

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