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Competitive Intelligence Briefing: Data Center Chips

The battle is getting intense in the lucrative data center chips market amid supply chain shortages and delays caused by Covid-19 pandemic. Central to this battle is the Intel-AMD rivalry in which AMD seems to be attaining thrust, thanks to Intel’s production delays in the launch of its latest 10nm data center CPU, Ice Lake. Intel also delayed the launch of the next-generation Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU to 1Q22. The costly delays have pushed Intel to boost its manufacturing and R&D capabilities: it will spend US$20B on two chip plants in Arizona and $600M for a chip R&D center in Israel. Despite the roadblocks, Intel still commands a dominant +90% share of the data center chips market. However, that share has been declining gently with AMD eating into the pie. One of the key reasons for AMD’s rise is its manufacturing strategy – it has transferred that burden to specialized foundries such as TSMC which boasts advanced process technologies. The result – AMD will be launching advanced 5nm EPYC Genoa chips next year, while Intel would still be offering 10nm (or Intel 7) Sapphire Rapids Xeon chips.
To spice up the competition further, GPU maker Nvidia will enter the server CPU market in 2023 with ARM-based CPU chips codenamed “Grace”. The move is a response to Intel’s bid to dent Nvidia’s stronghold in the server GPU market. Late last year, Intel launched its first GPU for data centers, Intel Server GPU. Also impacting sales prospects for Intel, AMD and Nvidia is...
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Matt Walker
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