The folks at Jon Peddie Research have published an interesting blog post that explores the disappearance of AMD CPUs from the workstation market. According to the research firm, AMD saw the most success in the dual-processor segment of the workstation market, where Opterons peaked with a slice of the pie just under 10%. That was back in 2006, and things have changed quite a bit since. In the last quarter, JPR estimated the Opteron's share of the workstation market at a measly 0.1%.
Obviously, AMD has struggled to compete with the Nehalem microarchitecture fueling Intel's latest workstation CPUs. The going doesn't get much easier on the graphics front, where AMD's FirePro graphics cards must square off against Quadros backed by the CUDA infrastructure Nvidia has built up over the years. JPR pegs Nvidia's share of the workstation graphics market at a whopping 87%, leaving little for AMD.
The post's author suspects that AMD's workstation business has become less of a priority than desktops and servers, which have much higher volumes. He also contends that AMD could be holding back while it prepares a new push based on upcoming Llano designs. Bulldozer's probably a better bet if AMD has a workstation ace up its sleeve, though.
As someone who has run dually Opteron and Athlon MP rigs over the years, I can't help but be a little sad to see AMD's share of the workstation space dwindle. But what constitutes a workstation has changed, too. With six-core Phenoms starting at $200 and motherboards offering gobs of second-gen PCI Express connectivity alongside support for copious amounts of memory, one can build the functional equivalent of a workstation using desktop parts that cost much less. You might not find Opterons selling in workstations from big-name system builders, but I suspect that many of AMD's latest Phenoms have popped up in desktops designed to perform the same tasks.