Why it matters: Could we be seeing the first optimistic signs that the beleaguered graphics card market is on the road to recovery? It might not seem that way right now, but there are some positive indications of a turnaround, including expectations that GPU shipments will rise by 10% this year, along with less demand from miners.
DigiTimes Asia reports that Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, and ASRock all saw significant growth in their graphics card shipments last year, and they're expected to increase a further 10% throughout 2022.
The usual demand from both enterprise and gaming industries, along with the rise in Covid-19 cases, component shortages, and logistical delays, are keeping graphics card prices high and availability low. However, shipments of cards are predicted to increase this year, and consumer demand is actually decreasing.
It won't last forever
It's not that gamers aren't desperate for the latest graphics cards. The slowing demand from consumers is due to Ethereum's upcoming shift from a proof-of-work mechanism to proof-of-stake. Once that happens, we can expect less demand for GPUs from miners. Combined with increased shipments, we might start seeing cheaper graphics cards and more of them in stock.
DigiTimes Asia's report comes after Nvidia's chief financial officer, Colette Kress, promised that the company will be able to increase the supply of its graphics cards to meet demand in the second half of this year. "We are also partnering with our supply chains to assist in our future capacity needs in the second half of... 2022," Kress said.
Notebook demand, however, isn't expected to decline. DigiTimes Asia writes that Asus, Dell, HP, and Apple have all booked chip capacity for the next 1 to 2 years and expect laptop shipments to remain flat or increase 10% YoY in 2022.
We're also expecting to see the release of Intel's Arc Alchemist graphics cards in the next few months, hopefully in this first quarter, which should address some of the demand. Additionally, the RX 6500 XT that arrives on January 19 should be less appealing to miners as it features just 4GB of VRAM, and a recent report showed that card prices in Europe are no longer trending upwards.
Many aren't expecting graphics card demand and supply to completely even out until 2023, but the second half of this year could be the first time in a while that buying a new GPU doesn't require a loan or eBay.