Graphics add-in boards up sequentially, way down from a year ago

The small seasonal uptick does not reverse the long decline.

The market for computer graphics add-in boards (AIBs) grew 3.9% in the third quarter of 2013, on a sequential basis (compared to 2Q13). On an annual basis, however, the long slide in PCs and their peripherals continues, as AIB sales were down 17% from 3Q12.

The new high-end Tesla K40 GPU helped Nvidia maintain its lead in the graphics add-in board market during the third quarter. (Source: Nvidia)
The new high-end Tesla K40 GPU helped Nvidia maintain its lead in the graphics add-in board market during the third quarter. (Source: Nvidia)

Jon Peddie Research (JPR) says AIB shipments in 3Q13 behaved according to past years with regard to seasonality, but the increase was less than the 10-year average. AIB shipments increased 3.9% from the last quarter (the 10-year average is 12%).

AIBs are used in desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments. They may be sold directly to customers as aftermarket products, or they may be factory installed. In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry using discrete chips and private high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.

JPR calls the findings “disappointing,” noting AIB shipments were down more than the general PC market, which slipped 7.6% on an annual basis. Sequentially, the overall PC desktop market increased quarter-to-quarter including double-attach (the adding of a second or third AIB to a system with integrated processor graphics) and to a lesser extent, dual AIBs in performance desktop machines using either AMD’s Crossfire or Nvidia’s SLI technology.

JPR says GPUs are traditionally a leading indicator of the market because a GPU goes into every system before it is shipped; most of the PC vendors are reporting down to flat results for 3Q13.

Vendor results

Total AIB shipments increased in the third quarter to 14.5 million units. AMD’s quarter-to-quarter total desktop AIB unit shipments decreased 3%, while Nvidia’s quarter-to-quarter unit shipments increased 8%. Nvidia continues to hold a dominant market share position at 64.5%. Figures for the other suppliers were flat to declining.

The change from quarter to quarter was slightly less than last year. Quarter-to-quarter percentage changes are shown in the table below.

AIB vendor results 3Q13 JPR

The AIB market now has just four chip (GPU) suppliers, who also build and sell AIBs. The primary suppliers of GPUs are AMD and Nvidia. There are 52 AIB suppliers, the AIB OEM customers of the GPU suppliers, which they call “partners.”

There are more than 51 companies selling privately branded AIBs worldwide, about a dozen PC suppliers that offer AIBs as part of a system, and/or as an option, and some that offer AIBs as separate aftermarket products.

Jon Peddie Research has been tracking AIB shipments quarterly since 1987; the volume of those boards peaked in 1999, reaching 114 million units. For more information on the JPR quarterly report on AIBs, visit