The bellwether GPU market may have turned the corner, an analyst says.
The restoration of global supply chains, improving consumer confidence and recent gaming technology advances could help erase pandemic-driven losses during the first half of 2020, prompting at least one chip analyst to predict a “V” -shaped recovery for the bellwether GPU market.
A graphics processor recovery is “going to be modest, but steady,” said industry analyst Jon Peddie, who notes positive indicators like reconstituted supplier networks and pent-up GPU demand among gamers and PC buyers.
Consumer confidence, which has been trending upward since late May, remains a reliable predictor of future behavior, especially among those who can continue to work remotely. Peddie expects many who are yearning to shop again will venture out to buy new home computers. A “swarm” of new machines is expected, including models based on Intel’s Alder Lake 10-nm desktop CPU.
Stay-at-home orders also have spawned new gamers, adding to expected GPU demand.
Peddie’s pre-pandemic GPU forecast for 2020 ranged from -8 percent to +3 percent. He revised downward in February as stay-at-home orders kicked in along with supply chain disruptions. That forecast range will narrow by about 2 percentage points on both ends by July, the market tracker said in an interview.
By the fall, Peddie sees “some semblance of normal activity—if there is such a thing anymore.” Hence, pent-up demand may be enough offset earlier losses.
“GPUs are traditionally a leading indicator of the market, since a GPU goes into every system before the suppliers ship the PC,” Peddie said in a research note covering the first quarter of 2020. Meanwhile, chip vendors are adjusting downward their guidance for next quarter, by an average of 9 percent.
“Some [of] that guidance is based on normal seasonality, but there is also a factor for the coronavirus impact,” Peddie said.
For now, total annual shipments of discrete GPUs (dGPUs) in PCs remain in a reverse “V” direction, declining 5.3 percent sequentially from the last quarter. AMD (down 16.6 percent from the previous quarter) and Nvidia (down 13.6 percent, sequentially) took the biggest hit. Intel’s quarterly GPU shipments rose slightly.
Overall, Peddie is convinced the GPU market has “turned” the corner over the last several months, driven by major improvements in gaming releases that harness graphic processing enhancements. Another factor in the market transformation is Nvidia’s push into ray tracing, resulting in immersive graphics that provide what the company promotes as “cinematic-quality rendering.”