Jon Peddie Research has released the quarterly Add-in Board report. Overall, the report finds the market shares for desktop discrete GPU suppliers shifted in the quarter, AMD increased market share from last quarter, as well as from last year.
Add-in boards (AIBs) using discrete GPUs are found in desktop PCs, workstations, servers, rendering and mining farms, 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 AIB market now has just two chip (GPU) suppliers that 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."
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 1998, reaching 116 million units; in 2016, 47 million shipped.
The news for the quarter was unusual. Quarter-to-quarter, the AIB market increased 6.4% (compared to the desktop PC market, which decreased 24.5%).
The GPU and PC market had been showing a return to normal seasonality. That pattern is typically flat to down in Q1, and a significant drop in Q2 as OEMs and the channel deplete inventory before the summer months. A restocking with the latest products in Q3 in anticipation of the holiday season, and mild increase to flat change in Q4. All of that is subject to an overall decline in the PC market since the great recession of 2007 and the influx of tablets and smartphones. However, this year, Q1 AIB shipments were completely out of synch, and remarkably high.
AIB shipments during the quarter increased from the last quarter (6.4%), which is above the ten-year average of -4.1%. On a year-to-year basis, we found that total AIB shipments during the quarter rose 66.4%, which is greater than desktop PCs, which fell 7.3%.
Overall, AIBs shipments had been declining slightly, but not as great as the PC due to gaming. However, in 2015 when the use of AIB for cryptocurrency mining became widespread, AIB sales started to rise while PC sales fell.
However, despite 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 impact and influence of eSports has also contributed to the market growth and attracted new users. VR continues to be interesting but is not having a measurable influence on the AIB market.
The gaming PC (system) market is vibrant. All OEMs are investing in the gaming space because the demand for gaming PCs is robust. Intel also validated this on their earnings call when they announced 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.
Discrete GPUs are the heart and soul of add-in boards (AIBs), and Jon Peddie Research's Add-in Board Quarterly Report covers the market activity of PC-based graphics for Q1 '18. This detailed 111-page report will provide you with all the data, analysis and insight you need to clearly understand where this technology is today and where it's headed.