AMD's GPU Market Share Takes A Beating From Intel, Nvidia

The latest results from Jon Peddie Research are in, and they aren't overly encouraging for AMD. According to the firm, Sunnyvale's share of the graphics market tumbled in Q4 2013, despite significant price cuts and the launch of both the R9 290 and R9 290X. AMD's total GPU shipments fell by 10.4% quarter-on-quarter, while Intel's share increased by 5.1% and Nvidia grew 3.4%.

The total market for PC graphics increased 1.8% quarter-on-quarter, but was down 8.5% year-on-year. Unfortunately, this isn't expected to improve; JPR expects the industry to ship 446M units in 2014 and just 422M by 2017 as more customers move towards tablets and smartphones as primary gaming devices.

Mixed Messaging

If you're wondering how AMD could lose market share after slashing prices and launching two new, well-received GPUs in Q4, the answer is easy: They didn't. JPR reports that AMD's share of the APU-powered desktop market jumped 15% in Q4, but those healthy gains were offset by a 26.7% decline in notebook APUs. Discrete graphic shipments in desktop grew 1.8%, but notebook discrete declined by 6.7%. According to JPR, the problem here is structural -- AMD missed notebook vendor deadlines to have parts ready for validation.

Nvidia, meanwhile, grew its desktop shipments by 3.6% and its notebook discrete by 3.2%. Overall shipments grew by 3.4% year-on-year. AMD lost 5.4% in total GPU shipments in 2013 compared to 2012, while Nvidia picked up 0.9% and Intel grew 5.4%. The following chart summarizes the current situation:

AMD Duels With Cryptocurrencies, Maxwell

AMD has a tall order on its hands if it wants to regain market share. We'd bet that at least some of the gains in desktop would be larger if the company's graphics products weren't suffering from runaway inflation thanks to cryptocurrency miners. When AMD GPUs that are supposed to sell for $179 are instead retailing at $249 (and its NewEgg setting the prices), then AMD customers who would have bought at $179 will walk away at $249 or settle for an Nvidia product. It's not clear if JPR captures channel sales or not, but either way, there are buyers who might go with AMD if the company's prices were actually where they ought to be.

Maxwell, meanwhile, is poised to make trouble for AMD throughout 2014. The card's strong power efficiency (and the existence of a mobile part) means that AMD has a challenge facing it later on this year. The company's efforts to slash prices on GCN have been tremendous for consumers, but not with rampant demand from cryptocurrency miners gumming up the works.