Graphics Add-in Board Shipments Crash from Q3
March 12, 2013

Graphics Add-in Board Shipments Crash from Q3

Jon Peddie Research (JPR) reviewed the estimated graphics add-in board (AIB) shipments and sales market share for Q4 '12 and found the worse seasonal drop since 2008. JPR's “AIB Report” tracks computer graphics boards, which carry discrete graphics chips.

AIBs are used in desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments. They may be sold directly to customers as after-market products, or they may be factory installed. In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry as discrete chips rather than integrated processors.

JPR found that AIB shipments during Q4 2012 behaved according to past years with regard to seasonality, but the drop was considerably more dramatic. AIB shipments decreased 17.3% from the last quarter (the 10-year average is just -0.68%). On a year-to-year comparison, shipments were down 10%.

Table 1 and Figure 1 Figure 2

The Quarter in General

Total AIB shipments decreased this quarter from the previous quarter by 17.3%, to 14.5 million units (see Table 1). Nvidia continues to hold a dominant market share position at 64%; in Q4 '12, AMD shipped 4.98 million units, and Nvidia shipped 9.5 (see Figure 2). Year to year this quarter, AIB shipments were down 10%, from 16.1 million to 14.5 million units.

Almost 37.3 million desktop PCs shipped worldwide in the quarter, an increase of 2.7% compared to the previous quarter (based on an average of reports from Dataquest, IDC, and HSI). Normally, this quarter of the year is down, and the quarter this year was no different, with an increase greater than the 10-year average (-0.68%). However, this is just one quarter in a very turbulent year, and the worldwide economic conditions are just too uncertain, so this quarter can't be used as a prediction of the future.

The change from quarter to quarter is more than last year. Quarter-to-quarter percentage changes are shown in Figure 1.

The 10-year average change for AIBs in the 4th quarter is -0.68%; this year it was lower at -17.3%, the second lowest drop ever, onlyexceeded by the crash of 2008. Tablets are having an impact on notebooks, and to a lesser extent, desktop where AIBs are used. Although improving, there was still a great deal of economic uncertainty in the fourth quarter of 2012, especially as new form factors emerge and Microsoft rolls in a substantially different operating system for Windows. As predicted some time ago, the embedded GPUs in CPUs are having an impact on the low end, which is the high-volume segment.

The AIB market now has just four chip (GPU) suppliers, which also build and sell AIBs. The primary suppliers of GPUs are AMD and Nvidia.There are 52 AIB suppliers, the AIB OEM customers of the GPU suppliers, which they call, "partners." Figure 2 shows the market share and shipment levels for GPU-AIB suppliers in the quarter.

Embedded graphics processors at first were simply replacing integrated chipsets and not having a major impact on AIBs. However, the newembedded graphics processor from AMD, the A10 (Trinity), has shown very good performance and has had an effect on entry-level AIBs.

Year to year for the quarter, the market decreased 10%. Shipments decreased to 14.5 million units, down 1.6 million units from thisquarter last year. The desktop AIB segments decreased in the low end, which JPR thinks is to be expected as embedded graphics processors satisfy the requirements of a market with no new or interesting applications or games - as long as Moore's Law is working and the software developers are complacent, the embedded processors will do well.

There was a slight increase in enthusiast segments year -to-year, but not enough to offset the loss in mainstream sales.