Rising Discrete GPU Shipments Favor NVIDIA Amid Shortage As PC Gaming Stays Red Hot

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
There is a lot to digest in the latest GPU shipment report from Jon Peddie Research, which really highlights the fact that we are in a unique time period. Silicon shortages abound and it is next to impossible to find a graphics card in stock. Yet shipments of discrete GPUs continue to climb, while overall GPU shipments both rose and fell. Say what now?

Let's start with overall GPU shipments. As a whole, the GPU market reached 101 million units in the third quarter of 2021, which represents a sizable 18.2% decrease from the previous quarter. If we hone in on the individual players, AMD saws its overall GPU shipments decline 11.4% sequentially while Intel's shipments plummeted 25.6%. Only NVIDIA saw an upward gain, to the tune of 8%.

These numbers paint a bit a less-than-full picture of the demand for GPUs and the ability of manufacturers to supply them. That's because the overall GPU market is not just comprised of graphics cards that you plug into your PC, but also processors with integrated graphics. They all count, even if you're not actively using integrated graphics.

Sure, some people do rely on integrated graphics and make CPU/APU purchases based on that need. But we're far more interested in the discrete GPU landscape, and specifically add-in boards (AIBs). When narrowing the field to discrete graphics cards for desktop PCs, there was actually a 10.9% increase in shipments from the previous quarter, according to the report.

While not mentioned, it's easy to figure out why—PC gaming is red hot. What is perhaps more perplexing at first glance is how shipments can be going up by double-digit percentage gains when there's a shortage and parts are never in stock. From our vantage point, it's because AMD and NVIDIA (and their AIB partners) are shipping and selling every graphics card they get their hands on.

JPR's data is consistent with earnings reports from the two major players, both of which are making a ton of money off GPUs. The rapid demand only contributes to the shortage. All of these factors also play into the price of graphics cards, with JPR noting that "average selling prices remain high as supply is still constrained."

Discrete GPU Shipment Data
Click to Enlarge (Source: Jon Peddie Research)

As far as the split in market share between AMD and NVIDIA, the needle didn't move from the second to third quarter. NVIDIA still dominates the landscape by accounting for 83% of all discrete GPU shipments, versus 17% for AMD. And compared to last year, NVIDIA increased its lead a little bit, as the split in the second quarter of 2020 was 80% (NVIDIA) / 20% (AMD).

JPR hasn't provided an updated discrete GPU report, but in the second quarter of this year the market research firm noted that AIB shipments topped $11.8 billion, representing a massive 179% increase year-over-year.

It will be interesting to see how the market adjusts throughout next year. The shortage is expected to linger, but could ease up a bit as 2022 progresses. In addition, Intel will launch its Arc Alchemist cards next year as well.