GPU Shipments Are Booming Again Just In Time For The AI PC Gold Rush

GeForce RTX 40 series graphics cards on a reflective gray surface.
in the words of Jon Peddie Research, a market research firm with a pulse on the tech industry (and especially GPUs), it was "another great quarter" for both PC-based GPU and CPU shipments. In more words, JPR reports that the global GPU market reached 76.2 million units last quarter while CPU shipments skyrocketed by 24% year-over-year, which qualifies as "the biggest year-to-year increase in two and a half decades." Interestingly, the shipment report comes just weeks after IDC reported an "unprecedented slump" in global PC shipments (though it did predict a recovery this year as well).

One thing to bear in mind is that overall GPU shipments take into account integrated graphics (iGPUs) and not just discrete graphics cards. In that sense, shipment figures can sometimes come off as exaggerated. This mainly applies when looking at the market share breakdown—Intel remains firmly in the lead with a 67% share of the overall GPU market (up 2.8% sequentially), followed by NVIDIA at 18% (down 1.36%) and AMD at 15% (down 1.4%). Obviously NVIDIA and AMD are much bigger players than Intel in the discrete graphics card market.

Graph of GPU shipments versus growth rate.
Source: Jon Peddie Research

Taken as a whole, however, overall GPU and CPU shipments are "leading indicators of the PC market because they go into a system while it's being built, before the suppliers ship the PC." That said, If looking at just add-in board (AIB) shipments, the numbers are still impressive—JPR says desktop graphics cards increased by 6.8% compared to the previous quarter.

All of this means that JPR is optimistic that 2024 will be great for the PC, though cautions to "curb your enthusiasm."

"The fourth quarter is a bit of a bellwether for the following year, and this quarter it was up, suggesting 2024 will be a strong year for the PC," said Dr. Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research. "The PC and CPU makers are introducing the so-called AI PC in the hopes of stimulating the market with a new shiny thing."

Indeed, all of the big players have gushed about AI and how it fits into their roadmaps. NVIDIA is perhaps best positioned to capitalize on the burgeoning AI market, as its recent data center revenue indicates. But AMD an Intel are also making silicon moves to ride the wave.

The question is, are consumers buying into the hype? That will be answered in time and, obviously, will depend on what use cases emerge. So far the attention on the consumer side has mostly been placed on intelligent chat bots and text-to-image generation capabilities.

"We’ve had AI-capable PCs for over a decade and the issue has been (and still is), where is the AI they will accelerate? It’s coming, and early examples from Adobe, Microsoft, and the CAD suppliers are good examples. But it won’t hit mainstream everyday utilization probably until the end of the year at the earliest. Therefore, we suggest caution in one’s optimism and enthusiasm," Dr. Peddie adds.

While that plays out, the market as a whole keeps chugging along. It's now been two consecutive quarters of growth, which some companies view as the "harbinger of a fantastic 2024," JPR notes in its latest report.
Tags:  PC shipments, AI, CPUs, GPUs