This subscription consists of quarterly reports focused on the market activity of PC graphics controllers for mobile and desktop computing. The report provides an in-depth look at the PC graphics market and includes unit shipment and segment market share data, and trend analysis.
“The graphics add-in board market has defied gravity for over a year now, showing gains while the overall PC market slips. The silly notion of integrated graphics “catching up” with discrete will hopefully be put to rest now.”
Market Share Shifts
The market shares for the desktop discrete GPU suppliers shifted in the quarter too.
AIBs using discrete GPUs are found in desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments. They are sold directly to customers as aftermarket products, or are factory installed by OEMs. In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry with their discrete chips and private, often large, high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.
The PC add-in board (AIB) market now has just three chip (GPU) suppliers which also build and sell AIBs. The primary suppliers of GPUs are AMD and Nvidia. There are 48 AIB suppliers, the AIB OEM customers of the GPU suppliers, which they call “partners.”
Lots of AIB suppliers, smaller shipments. In addition to privately branded AIBs offered worldwide, about a dozen PC suppliers offer AIBs as part of a system, and/or as an option, and some that offer AIBs as separate aftermarket products. We have been tracking AIB shipments quarterly since 1987-the volume of those boards peaked in 1999, reaching 114 million units, in 2015, 44 million shipped.
The news for the quarter was encouraging and seasonally understandable, quarter-to-quarter, the AIB market increased 5.6% (compared to the desktop PC market, which increased 19.4%).
AIB shipments during the quarter increased from the last quarter 5.6%, which is which is above the ten-year average of -4.7%. On a year-to-year basis, we found that total AIB shipments during the quarter rose 21.1%, which is greater than desktop PCs, which fell 10.9%.
Gaming the game changer. However, in spite of the overall PC churn, somewhat due to tablets and embedded graphics, the PC gaming momentum continues to build and is the bright spot in the AIB market.
The gaming PC (system) market is as vibrant as the stand alone AIB market. All OEMs are investing in Gaming space because demand for Gaming PCs is robust. Intel also validated this on their earnings call., and the recent announcement of a new Enthusiast CPU. However, it won’t show in the overall market numbers, because like gaming GPUs, the gaming PCs are dwarfed by the general-purpose machines.
If anyone doubted that the PC was the platform of choice for gaming, this quarter’s results will correct that incorrect misconception. The gaming market is lifting the entire PC market and has over whelmed the console market.
The overall GPU shipments (integrated and discrete) is greater than desktop PC shipments due double-attach-the adding of a second (or third) AIB to a system with integrated processor graphics-and to a lesser extent, dual AIBs in performance desktop machines using either AMD’s Crossfire or Nvidia’s SLI technology Improved attach rate. The attach rate of AIBs to desktop PCs has declined from a high of 63% in Q1 2008 to 46% this quarter, a decrease of 11.5% from last quarter which was negative. Compared to this quarter last year it increased 36.0% which was outstanding.
Not just gaming. Workstation AIBs were also up for the quarter, 19.4% from last quarter, and 19.2% from last year.
With lack luster applications (other than games), and the failure of Windows 10 to spur the market, consumers for the most part, and commercial buyers extended their buying cycle out from three to four or more years. They still need and use PCs, but not the latest ones. The exception, and only bright spots, have been the gaming segment and professional graphics. As a result, we see consumers buying AIBs to gain performance improvements and not upgrading the PC as frequently.