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Low cost and integrated GPUs gain the most in Q2

GPU sales are looked at as an indicator of how well the overall computer market is doing since all computers today ship with a GPU of some sort be it of the discrete or integrated variety. So far, 2009 has been a rough year for GPU makers.

Typically, GPU makers would be disappointed with no significant growth, but with the poor economy, it's a welcome change from the significant declines other quarters have seen. Jon Peddie Research (JPR) has unveiled its latest numbers for the add-in GPU industry for Q2 2009. The numbers show that 16.81 million add-in units were shipped, up 3% from the previous quarter and down 15% from the same quarter in 2008.

Inventories had to be replenished over Q2 and JPR estimates that the replenishment at least shadowed consumption or was a bit higher. With the poor economy still hurting many consumers, sales in the GPU market moved downstream. Most of the growth in the GPU market was in the integrated segment with a 4% year-over-year increase in shipments for the quarter. Lower cost discrete cards also saw modest improvements according to JPR with higher cost discrete cards taking the worst the quarter had to offer.

The quarter was the first where AMD finally started to gain back some share from NVIDIA. JPR reports that AMD's unit share rose from 31% in Q1 to 35% in Q2 with NVIDIA seeing their share decline the same 4% to 64% overall. That means that AMD took every bit of its growth from NVIDIA's marketshare. NVIDIA and Intel GPU shipments did rebound slightly in Q1 2009.

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RE: Why Would You Buy NVidia?
By JPForums on 8/27/2009 9:37:59 AM , Rating: 2
Hit the nail on the head there.

Due to my constant upgrade and hand down system I've got going with a lot of friends and family, I've owned quite a few ATi and nVidia cards (these don't include systems I've built/worked on for others):
Rage Pro, Rage 128 Pro, TNT2, Radeon, GF2, Radeon 8500, GF4 TI4600, Radeon 9700Pro, GF 6800GT, Radeon X800XT, Radeon X1900XT, Radeon HD3850 AGP, Radeon HD3870, GF 8800GTS(G80), GF 8800GTS(G92), Radeon HD4850, GF GTX260(core 216), Radeon HD4870 X2, Radeon HD4890
From various manufacturers:
Chaintech,PowerColor, Saphire, Leadtech, XFX, HIS, BFG, Asus, MSI, EVGA

I'd like to think I've got a good feal for both nVidia and ATi over the years. In my experience, neither nVidia nor ATi really stand out as clearly superior in the long term. I've experienced driver issues of similar magnitude from both. nVidia had the clear performance advantage until the Radeon 9700Pro. Afterwards, the two companies have been in close proximity trading blows. Arguably the largest screw up from either company was nVidia's FX series. Not only did it underperform, but they put graphically detrimental tricks in the driver to fake better performance (a practice that was, unfortunately, copied by their competition) . They were, however, quick to rectify both issues with the 6000 series. ATi screwed up with their HD2000 series, but though this was less of a screw up in my opinion, ATi showed themselves less capable of handling such a screw up and didn't really get back into the game until the HD4000 series. nVidia has a minor advantage with SLI over Crossfire, but ATI has a minor advantage with Rage Theater over Purevideo.

The point is, both companies have had similarly sever driver issues and similar complicated workarounds. Both companies have had great performers and sour performers. The biggest standout is the manufacturers.

The following is based on my somewhat extensive experience and other will most certainly have different experiences.

On the ATi side in no particular order:
Asus has good quality (non standard design as well), performance, and good non-reference cooling, but the support is lousy.

XFX has good quality, and support, but performance is average on the ATi side and there are no non-reference coolers.

MSI has good performance and good non-reference coolers, but support is lousy and quality is sometimes suspect.

HIS has good quality, performance, and their own excellent non-reference cooler, but support is beyond lousy.

On the nVidia side I haven't found many manufacturers that use non-reference coolers, especially lately, so lack of one isn't really a downside.
EVGA has good quality, performance, and support.

BFG has good quality, performance, and support.

XFX has good quality, performance, and support.

Asus has good quality and performance, but lousy support.

nVidia has three excellent manufacturers, one of which is also present on the ATi side, but they don't seem to have the same commitment to ATi. Meanwhile, ATi customers have to deal with often poor support and warranties. Also, the ATi side has some big names that have issues that can give it a bad reputation. I'm going to point out Sapphire in particular since they used to be (maybe still are) the largest ATi manufacturer. I've had several cards from them, none of which were satisfactory. The first one roasted due to a poor thermal adhesive (heatsink fell off). The second, had some bad solder joints, that I repaired with a hairdryer and sand, and a poorly mounted heatsink that I fixed before the first use (still works). The third one didn't have any obvious problems except that it had to be underclocked to keep from artifacting. The final straw was the X1900XT that had some type of soft plastic under the shield that melted to the heatsink. It didn't die as I noticed the artifacting immediately looked at the temperature (~110C). After I found the problem, I tried to RMA it and made the mistake of telling them what I had found. They said removing the shield (to find the problem) voided my warranty. After removing the melted plastic from the heatsink, the card still artifacted (~90). A Zalman copper after market cooler keeps it cool enough (~60C) that it won't artifact at stock speeds, but it can't get much warmer without problems.

The biggest problem I had with nVidia side manufacturers was a poorly manufactured heatsink on my Leadtech 6800GT. I should mention that Leadtech used a non-reference heatsink for this one. The irony is I've never liked the reference coolers from ATi, but I've only ever had problems with an non-reference cooler on the nVidia side.

The single best thing that could happen to ATi, right now, is for EVGA and/or BFG to add ATi to their product line and for XFX to give a full commitment to them. It might just be that XFX doesn't yet understand that aftermarket coolers are a lot more important on the ATi side than the nVidia side.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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