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Intel CPU price drops “the only real lever to pull” to combat AMD’s growing market share

A Barclays analyst believes Intel will have to reduce prices to compete with the threat from AMD's Ryzen and Epyc CPUs

Intel 8th Gen Intel Core badges

Intel has been downgraded by the investment bank Barclays, with one analyst indicating that pricing is “the only real lever to pull” for the company. The price target for Intel’s chips has been significantly cut by one of the firm’s analysts, Blayne Curtis, who believes Chipzilla will face losing market share to rivals AMD or cutting prices to compete. Both options represent a fall from grace for Intel from its unrivalled position at the top of the food chain for the last decade.

Intel has never shown much conviction in dropping prices to compete with the competition, and likely with good reason from a financial standpoint. Under the wary eye of shareholders, Intel can’t drop prices to compete with AMD’s Ryzen chips without the move being seen as an admission that AMD’s product stack was something worth worrying about.

But Intel’s pricing standstill cannot continue for much longer without considerable repercussions for the company. AMD has proven its product stack is competitive and customers are making the change. Not only that, but Intel’s recently admitted it is struggling with 14nm production. As such, one analyst believes Intel may have little left to do than to cut its prices to start winning back some of the 30% global CPU market share that AMD is on track to snatch away by the time 2018 is up.

Even a potential move such as cutting prices has already got financial analysts all riled up, reports CNBC. Barclays has cut its price target for Intel shares from $53 all the way down to $38 – evidence enough of why Intel might have been hesitant to make the move earlier. Intel stock is currently sitting at $46, continuing a on/off downward slope throughout the year.

Intel HQ logo

“Intel faces a costly battle ahead to retain share as competitive threat from AMD heats up,” Barclays analyst Curtis says, “along with near-term slowing of end markets.

“The market is already giving AMD credit for significant share gains, but Intel is not going to let that share go without a fight with pricing the only real lever to pull.”

Intel is on the eve of releasing new CPUs, however, the i9 9900K and i7 9700K. The i9 9900K will be an eight-core / sixteen-thread chip set to compete with AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700X, and the i7 9700K an eight-core chip replacing the 8th Gen i7 8700K in the stack.

This will be the first time Intel has a chip with core parity to AMD’s top offering, and the i9 9900K is already showing strong performance in leaked benchmarks. However, it also will be much pricier than the Ryzen 7 2700X, at $480-580 to $320, respectively – a prime example of the price disparity that analyst Curtis believes has to be left at the door if Intel wants to start winning back the market.

It wasn’t long ago that rumours of Intel dropping prices to fend off AMD would’ve been met with familiar idioms along the lines of ‘when pigs fly’. However, after a rough 2018 it’s looking more likely that Intel needs to do something fairly radical to compete. Despite products showing strong performance in various sectors, Core and Xeon pricing, along with shortages due to 10nm delays, have opened the door to rivals AMD, and the pressure is on Intel’s interim CEO, Bob Swan, to do something about it.