Pandemic and Games Drive GPU Shipments to Soar

Article By : George Leopold

Virtual holidays will continue to benefit graphic chip makers...

A quarterly summary of robust graphic chip shipments includes an insight that applies to most electronics sectors in this, the Year of the Plague.

“The pandemic has distorted all models and predictions,” notes graphics market guru Jon Peddie. That reality has boosted the vibrant GPU market in ways few could have foreseen. For leading graphics processor vendors, strong third quarter demand has sustained a recovery in the PC market that began in those halcyon pre-pandemic days about this time last year.

Peddie reports overall GPU shipments between July and September rose 10.3 percent over the previous quarter. The biggest gainer was AMD, which logged an 18.7 percent quarterly increase. The GPU market analyst reckons AMD’s gain was market leader Intel’s loss, the latter shedding two percentage points of market share during the third quarter.

AMD also drew even with Nvidia during the last quarter in terms of total PC graphics processors shipped.

Desktop graphics add-in boards that use discrete GPUs rang up a 13.44-percent attach rate during the third quarter, fueling the strong quarterly results.

Peddie notes that the third quarter is generally the strongest, and this year was no exception, slightly outperforming the 10-year average growth rate for GPU shipments of 9.7 percent.

graphic chip

Those trends continue to benefit AMD and Nvidia, though Intel still controls an estimated 62 percent of total PC GPUs shipped during the third quarter.

The quarterly GPU results bode well for the overall computer market since graphics demand is a leading indicator, Peddie notes. The buzz around Apple’s new M1 SoC will undoubtedly sustain demand for graphics chips, which end up in nearly every system shipped by Apple and other computer makers.

Gaming and pandemic-driven home office retrofits are among the key drivers of the add-in board sector. Peddie also noted recent speculation concerning cryptocurrency mining, perhaps renewing demand for graphics boards. “Anything is possible, but the power consumption of [add-in boards] greatly diminishes the payoff for crypto-mining.”

Moreover, the 2.0 version of Ethereum, the open-access technology underpinning the Ether cryptocurrency, will likely make GPUs obsolete for crypto-mining. “A person would be very foolish to invest in a high-end, power-consuming [add-in boards] for crypto-mining,” Peddie advised.

Meanwhile, quarterly guidance from GPU makers continues to trend upward by an average of 1.25 percent, driven by a combination of seasonality and continuing Covid-19 restrictions. It looks increasingly likely restraints will include a new round of lockdowns, confining office workers and students to their homes and keeping gamers glued to their consoles.

Virtual holidays are hell on the Christmas spirit, but clearly beneficial to the device makers rendering the digital world.

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