I started building desktop computers in 1996, for both business clients and consumers. To keep the cost of the systems reasonable, I chose to use central processing units manufactured by AMD that, at the time, cost about 25% less. During the next ten years as I went on to build more desktop systems, I continued to exclusively use the AMD chips. Besides the cost savings, I found the CPUs to be extremely reliable with none of the systems ever suffering a CPU failure.
Competition, however, began between Intel and AMD during the late 1990s and early 2000s. During this time, both companies turned their concentration towards efforts to increase the speed of their CPUs. As both of these chip manufacturers continuously upped the speed of their chips, it became nothing more than a numbers game where if one of them upgraded from, say, a 900 MHz chip to a 1,000 MHz chip, the other company immediately followed suit. The result of these speed increases was that power use and heat build up both built up; it wasn’t until these power hungry, heat generating CPUs were placed into laptops that users started experiencing real issues. To deal with this problem, many of us chose to use laptop coolers because the laptops became too hot to place on our laps.
As a result both companies refined their chip offerings by lowering CPU speed and increasing the core to two functioning processors. This method proved to make a great alternative for laptops providing users with a fairly quick machine while using less power, which increased battery life. However, at the time, AMD made an announcement that it would not enter into the mobile CPU marketplace while Intel came out with its Atom processor for netbooks and notebooks like the Cr-48 from Google, placing it ahead of AMD in this market. However, other companies like Apple introduced their own processors — both single and dual core that are being used in the iPad and iPad 2.
What appears to have happened is that some of the major players failed to see the popularity of tablets. Most notable are Intel and Microsoft, who are now trying to play catch-up. Other companies, like Motorola (which was the first to take a hit when its Xoom tablet failed to sell) and now Acer (which has announced that it will curtail production of its new tablets by 60% for this quarter) are just two examples of being late to the table. Acer is currently claiming that it will show an improvement in sales for the third and fourth quarters, but while I seriously wish the company the best, I can’t see that happening.
In the last few years AMD has changed direction and is once again competing with Intel and has expanded into the tablet computer market. On a personal note, I believe that both Intel and AMD will remain competitive in both the desktop and laptop computer markets even though they blinked when the tablet was introduced and they now have plenty of competition from companies that use ARM, which licenses their designs for others in the mobile device market to use.