Graphics Processors Boomed in Q3; Q4 Sales Expected To Be Strong

Market analysis firm Jon Peddie Research has released its report on graphic processor sales in the third quarter. According to the data, the strong Q2 rebound was no one-time event; GPU sales continued to climb into Q3 and are expected to rise further in Q4. Intel, AMD, SiS, and VIA all saw their market share increase, with AMD leading the pack. Matrox was the sole exception; its share of the GPU market has dropped to 0.0 percent according to JPR.

AMD picked up 1.4 percentage points of market share; Intel grew its share by 1.6 percentage points, and NVIDIA managed to lose 4.3 percent market share (down to 24.9 percent from 29.2 percent). Nevertheless, Team Green still shipped slightly more GPUs this quarter than last; the company's number of units shipped rose by 3.3 percent. Both SiS and VIA snatched significant pieces of the market for themselves (relatively speaking); SiS improved from 0.4 percent market share to 1.1 percent; VIA jumped from 0.8 percent to 1.5 percent.

The above graph details growth in total number of units shipped as opposed to percentage of market share. Strong growth in all corners, save for NVIDIA's—the company's fortunes may improve thanks to increased availability of ION-based products, but AMD's Radeon HD 5000 series has its rival in a tough spot. NVIDIA has options—it could slash prices on the existing GeForce 200 series—for example and undercut its competition just in time for the Christmas holidays. It's even possible that the company intends to introduce 40nm flavors of its current GTX 275 and 285 series, at correspondingly higher clockrates. Such a move would essentially be a stop-gap, which is why it seems unlikely, but if NVIDIA wanted to keep its Fermi architecture at higher price points initially, it could make sense to introduce a new, faster GeForce 2xx card to hold the lower market tiers.

Back in the here-and-now, notebook/mobile GPU's led the industry. Shipments of notebooks with discrete graphics rose by 36 percent quarterly, while notebooks/netbooks with integrated graphics grew 27 percent. Looking ahead to Q4, Peddie expects a strong finish, but without the sales jumps we saw in Q2 and Q3. "The channel is full and the products in it will have to be sold off before the OEMs and their resellers take a chance of seeing the channel becoming overstuffed. That suggests that while Q4 is typically a good quarter for PCs, the quarter-to-quarter growth in Q4 may not be as robust as Q3. Graphics are a great leading indicator," Peddie said, "The graphics go in before the PC is built or shipped."