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AMD Latest Company to Win Market Share from Industry Giant

A revolution is spreading through the computer industry. Apple Computer is beating Microsoft in the digital music market, despite going it alone in a crowded market in which the software giant has partnered with numerous companies. Tiny Mozilla Foundation has eked out 6 percent of the market from the ensconced Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), a long-time dominant player that last saw viable competition in 1998. And perennial microprocessor also-ran AMD is seeing its fortunes rise as well, thanks to an evolutionary 64-bit design that even market leader Intel is copying.
In the most recent quarter, AMD's share of the microprocessor market edged up to 15.8 percent, from 15.5 percent in the previous quarter. That doesn't sound like a big leap, but remember that AMD competes against a company that basically owns the market. A year ago, AMD controlled 15.1 percent of the market, meaning its market share has risen almost one percentage point in 1 year. Not coincidentally, during that same time period, Intel's market share fell from 83.3 percent to 81.9 percent. VIA Technologies, Transmeta, and PowerPC microprocessors make up the remainder of the market.
But the biggest sign of AMD's success has to be its 64-bit Athlon 64 and Opteron chipsets, which are fully compatible with the 32-bit x86 line of processors that Intel popularized. By adding 64-bit features to the most popular type of 32-bit processor, AMD has given customers the best of both worlds, and gamers, PC enthusiasts, and corporate customers have rallied around the chip. Earlier this year, Intel admitted that it was developing its own Pentium 4 and Xeon processors that would be compatible with the AMD 64 hardware; together, the 64-bit AMD and Intel chips are now referred to as the x64 platform. Microsoft and the Linux community are supporting the platform with unique client and server OS releases as well.
The problem for AMD is that customers might now choose Intel's x64 designs over AMD's processors, as they've done with 32-bit chips. If the company is lucky, it will duplicate the success of Apple's iPod and iTunes Music Store, which have proven resilient in the face of numerous Microsoft-backed competitors. Regardless, AMD has ensured itself a place in computing history: We were going to move to 64-bits eventually, but now AMD's design, not Intel's, will clearly take us there.

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