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Intel Maintains PC Microchip Dominance

The battle for market share persists among semiconductor companies as first-quarter computer data shows continued scraping for mere tenths of percentage points. However, Intel (INTC) and Samsung continued to dominate their respective sectors.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) gained three-tenths of a percentage point from the fourth quarter to hold 16.9% of the PC processor market, according to Mercury Research data cited by eWeek. Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, slipped by half a point to 81.7%.

AMD was helped by its Opteron server chips and desktop chips targeted at different segments. From the first quarter last year, AMD has gained 2 percentage points of market share, according to the report.

Intel, however, continues to dominate the microprocessor market and has benefited from a longer-term shift to notebook computers with its Centrino brand. AMD only recently introduced its thin-and-light notebook processor, dubbed Turion.

AMD and Intel have clashed for years in the market for computer microprocessors, which act as the logic hub for a computer's programs. AMD has improved its technology and manufacturing capabilities during the past three years to make a more formidable competitor to Intel. And AMD recently announced it would spin off its flash memory operations -- where it also competes with Intel -- to focus on its microprocessor operations.

Also, iSuppli released new data regarding the volatile DRAM market, showing that Micron Technology (MU) and Hynix Semiconductor again flip-flopped in the second and third positions, with Boise, Idaho-based Micron edging South Korea-based Hynix in the first quarter.

Samsung continues to hold a dominant lead with 31.1% of the DRAM market while Micron held 16.8%, Hynix had 16.5% and Infineon Technologies (IFX) held 12%. Micron and Hynix traded rankings every quarter last year with Hynix claiming the second position for the full year.

DRAM, or dynamic random access memory, is the most common type of memory used in personal computers. As a commodity, it is subject to wide pricing swings due to supply and demand imbalances.

The DRAM market declined during the first quarter, as is typical, but iSuppli noted that profitability suffered more than usual. "With DRAM prices continuing to decrease in the second quarter, a few suppliers are expected to post losses for the period, the first time this has occurred since the third quarter of 2003," according to an iSuppli statement.

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