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GPU shipments saw biggest nosedive since noughties recession

A sign of the computer industry’s sad state, but at least there’s supply!

All those shiny, expensive graphics cards you've seen sitting on retail shelves the past few months really have been a sign of tough times for the computer industry.

The latest indication: GPU shipments in the third quarter saw their biggest drop since the Great Recession (until the next one) in 2009, according to a new report.

The report comes from research firm Jon Peddie Research, which said this week that third-quarter GPU shipments for PCs decreased 25.1 percent year-over-year and 10.3 percent from the previous quarter.

It's important to note that these shipments include graphics cards for desktops, laptop GPUs, and CPUs with integrated graphics. This means the report covers all PCs and, as a result, is very reflective of the state of the computer industry. The sector has seen an overall tumble in sales over the past several months, based on vendors' recent earnings reports as well as other market reports.

For instance, Nvidia's gaming GPU revenue in the third quarter was down 51 percent year-over-year and down 23 percent from the previous three-month period. AMD's gaming revenue, on the other hand, grew in the period, but only because high-end gaming console chip sales offset lower GPU shipments for PCs.

"The third quarter is usually the high point of the year for the GPU and PC suppliers, and even though the suppliers had guided down in Q2, the results came much below their expectations," said Jon Peddie, president of the US-based research firm. Peddie attributed the major downswing in GPU shipments to several factors:

All the companies gave various and sometimes similar reasons for the downturn: the shutdown of crypto mining, headwinds from China's zero-tolerance rules on kit and rolling shutdowns, sanctions by the US, the purchasing run-up during Covid, the Osborne effect on AMD while gamers wait for the new AIBs, inflation and the higher prices of AIBs, overhanging inventory run-down, and a bad moon out tonight.

His Osborne effect comment is in reference to the fact that AMD plans to launch its answer to Nvidia's recently launched GeForce RTX 4000 series with the new Radeon RX 7900 cards in December. The user situation is likely a nod to how GPU purchases soared during the first couple years of the pandemic as people geared up for lockdown.

Jon Peddie Research isn't the only firm to evoke the Great Recession when describing current market conditions in the computer industry. Last week, Taiwanese research firm TrendForce said that revenue for the entire DRAM industry dropped 28.9 sequentially to $18.19 billion in the third quarter, marking the second-largest decline to the one that happened in 2008.

Intel grows GPU share and shipments, unlike AMD and Nvidia

When including Intel's CPUs with integrated graphics, the chip giant has held the largest share of the computer GPU market for quite some time due to its dominant yet waning x86 footprint, according to Jon Peddie Research.

In the third quarter, Intel's GPU market share grew 10.3 points to 72 percent in the third quarter from the previous three-month one. Meanwhile, Nvidia's share decreased by 1.87 points to 16 percent while AMD's share declined by 8.5 points to 12 percent.

Intel's market share growth was the result of a 4.7 percent sequential increase in shipments for the third quarter. While the research firm didn't say what drove the bump, we think it's possible this movement at least partially reflects the broader availability of Intel's new Arc discrete GPUs, which had a slower-than-expected rollout due to COVID lockdowns in China and software issues.

Shipments for Nvidia and AMD fell 19.7 percent and 47.6 percent, respectively, in the third quarter from the previous three-month period. While Intel's Arc discrete graphics products entered the mix, they weren't enough to stop graphics cards from seeing an overall plummet in shipments by 33.5 percent quarter-over-quarter.

While integrated graphics silicon has generally been less powerful than the GPUs inside graphics cards, the report nevertheless shows how big Intel's footprint is in the space. We should note that there have been advancements in recent years from Intel and AMD that have made integrated graphics more attractive for higher-performance applications.

the report expects a downturn in GPU shipments will continue in the fourth quarter, though there could be silver linings for both vendors and users.

"Generally, the feeling is Q4 shipments will be down, but [average selling prices] will be up, supply will be fine, and everyone will have a happy holiday," Peddie said. ®

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