AMD’s Discrete GPU Sales Bottomed Out in Q4
A new report on the state of the graphics market finds that the space grew briskly in 2020 compared with 2019, but the growth wasn’t evenly distributed. While the numbers vary depending on whether you consider the entire GPU market (which includes Intel) or just the discrete desktop space, Intel and Nvidia were the overall winners. AMD’s numbers took a hit in both.
This report comes from Jon Peddie Research, which tracks discrete GPU sales as well as the overall market. Intel was the big winner in the overall market. This tracks with what we know was happening in Q4 2020. AMD lost market share that quarter, despite shipping over a million Ryzen 5000 chips, because it still couldn’t meet market demand.
Similarly, Nvidia was working through supply issues in Q3 and Q4 2020. There were rumors of low yields on Ampere through this period and the company quit building new Turing cards several months before Ampere launched.
The discrete market is not positive for AMD, either. The company’s market share dropped nine percentage points year on year and two percentage points quarter on quarter.
Anton Shilov of Tom’s Hardware has written a deep dive on last year’s GPU sales that breaks out the actual number of discrete GPUs shipped by Nvidia and AMD and includes data going back to 2014.
This isn’t great. If this data is accurate, AMD’s discrete GPU shipments were almost as low in Q4 2020 as they were in Q2 2015. AMD launched its Fury GPU family that quarter after losing market share for years courtesy of the one-sided cryptocurrency market boom. Q4 2018 was at the tail end of the cryptography overhang. Nvidia Pascal cards were selling at excellent prices at the time and Turing had just launched. AMD’s RDNA was still six months away.
As for today, the situation may look a little worse than it actually is.
We know AMD had to make some tough decisions regarding which chips it was going to build in the back half of the year. The PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X, Ryzen 5000 series, and the Radeon 6800 and 6800 XT all launched just weeks apart. AMD’s profit margins on its CPUs have always been bigger than its GPU earnings and it obviously had to keep promises it made to Sony and Microsoft. That leaves Radeon to take it on the chin.
AMD and Nvidia are weirdly juxtaposed when it comes to gaming. If you strictly examine the PC market, Nvidia has an overwhelming 80+ percent share. If you include game consoles, AMD’s overall share of the pie is much less lopsided. If we go by last-gen consoles sold, AMD stands at 165 million units for the Xbox One and PS4 while Nvidia powers 79.8 million Switches. Toss in, say, 10 million next-gen consoles shipped on top and AMD has about 70 percent of the console market and 18 percent of the dGPU PC space. Nvidia has about 30 percent of consoles and around 82 percent share in PC. Statistically, most of the people playing on AMD GPUs are playing on consoles these days.
It’s not really surprising to see that AMD may have sacrificed Radeon shipments to fill other orders. The big question is what happens next and whether the company can improve availability as lower-end RDNA2 cards launch and the semiconductor crunch (maybe?) eases. It’s hard for people to be fans of products they can’t buy.