Graphics market defies PC downturn

While the PC sales continue to be slow, the graphics market is growing fast, according to figures from Jon Peddie Research.

Jon Peddie said that in 2011, PC sales rose only 0.5 percent over 2010 numbers, but the graphics market grew 8.9 percent year-on-year and have returned to normal seasonal sales.

He said that graphics were a good indicator for the health of the PC market, because there are one or two GPUs in every PC sold.

The figures also include the fact that Intel and AMD are shipping a GPU in many of their CPUs now. The graphics figures show that Intel is starting to gain ground with a seven percent market share, but AMD gained 2.6 percent. The loser in the market is Nvidia which lost seven percent.

Nvidia’s fall is because the company quit the integrated chipset market – and integrated GPUs on the Sandy Bridge and Fusion processors from Intel and AMD made their products useless.

There is also a healthy add-in board aftermarket for people who upgrade their PC, since GPU technology tends to advance faster than CPUs and gamers are more concerned with a faster video card than CPU.

Consumers bought 16.1 million add-in boards, down from the 18 million sold in Q4 of 2010. Peddie thinks that is because of the weak economic environment and the Thai floods.

What is interesting is that the integrated GPU of Intel’s Sandy Bridge and AMD’s Fusion processors is not hurting the market in general. People are still buying graphics cards because the GPUs in Sandy Bridge and Fusion are not quite up to snuff.

Many expected the low-end graphics card market to be harmed by the rise of Sandy Bridge and Fusion, but that has not happened.

Europe, Asia, and the other BRIC countries value the performance difference you get with discrete, but still have limited budgets and so will buy low-end to midrange add-in boards, Peddie told Desktop Review.