Normally, we don’t greet news of a sharp decline in GPU shipments with any enthusiasm, but recent data from Jon Peddie Research on the current state of the GPU market may be better-received than most. Year-on-year desktop GPU sales fell 16 percent in Q3 2018 compared with the same period in 2017, thanks to a decline in crypto-related GPU sales.
Overall GPU sales fell by 2.2 percent, though that was offset by a 7 percent increase in laptop GPU shipments. The drop in desktop, however, was large enough in total to counteract this impact. Compared with Q2, total GPU shipments increased by 10.64 percent, with AMD shipments up by 6.5 percent, Nvidia increasing by 4.3 percent, and Intel up by 13.1 percent. These numbers include both dGPU and iGPUs, which is why Intel is counted (Intel is included in these reports because there are millions of systems that ship only with Intel graphics and no dGPU at all).
Jon Peddie has also released its numbers for the add-in board (AIB) market specifically, and they look rather different. AIB shipments fell 19.2 percent from Q2 2018, thanks to the end of cryptocurrency demand. Nvidia’s market share, however, went up significantly both compared to Q2 2018 and Q3 2017:
“The third quarter is normally the strongest from the previous quarter. This quarter it was down -19.2 percent from the last quarter,” said Dr. Jon Peddie, President of JPR. “That is below the ten-year average of 14.9 percent and was caused by too much inventory in the channel due to a misjudgment on the strength of the crypto-mining demand.”
This dovetails with Nvidia’s own comments during its last earnings call. Nvidia has stated it will not produce more midrange cards in Q4 2018 to give the channel time to clear inventory left over from the cryptocurrency demand. The surge in Nvidia’s overall market share probably has a great deal to do with pent-up demand for Turing. AMD had no consumer response to the RTX family when it debuted, and after more than two years, users were likely hungry for new hardware. AMD might claw back some market share in Q4 — it continues to offer cards like the RX 570 for $ 139 / $ 149, while the RX 580 has crept up to $ 200 post-Black Friday, but remains a solid deal at that price point. It’s also launched the RX 590, which is faster than the GTX 1060 but priced significantly higher.
No matter which vendor you favor, however, the GPU market has fully course-corrected after crypto drove prices up and is not anticipated to boost upwards again in the same fashion any time soon — though the impact of the US-China trade war could change that calculus if President Trump decides to impose a 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods starting on Jan. 1.