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Add-in Board report

Written By
Jon Peddie & Robert Dow

Quarter-to-quarter graphics board shipments increased 29.1%, and increased 21.5% year-to-year.

The add-in graphics board market was outstanding in Q3'17, increasing 29.1% sequentially,


The market shares for the desktop discrete GPU suppliers shifted in the quarter by a few percentage points in Nvidia’s favor.

AIBs using discrete GPUs are found in desktop PCs, workstations, servers, rendering and mining farms, and other devices such as scientific instruments. They are sold directly to customers as aftermarket products, or are factory installed by OEMs. In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry with their discrete chips and private, often large, high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.


The PC add-in board (AIB) market now has just two chip (GPU) suppliers which also build and sell AIBs. The primary suppliers of GPUs are AMD and Nvidia. There are 48 AIB suppliers, the AIB OEM customers of the GPU suppliers, which they call “partners.”
Lots of AIB suppliers, smaller shipments. In addition to privately branded AIBs offered worldwide, about a dozen PC suppliers offer AIBs as part of a system, and/or as an option, and some that offer AIBs as separate aftermarket products. We have been tracking AIB shipments quarterly since 1987—the volume of those boards peaked in 1999, reaching 114 million units, in 2016, 47 million shipped.


The news for the quarter was encouraging and seasonally understandable, quarter-to-quarter, the AIB market increased 29.1% (compared to the desktop PC market, which increased 21.2%).


The GPU and PC market have been showing a return to normal seasonality. That pattern is typically flat to down in Q1, a significant drop in Q2 as OEMs and the channel deplete inventory before the summer months. A restocking with the latest products in Q3 in anticipation of the holiday season, and mild increase to flat change in Q4. All, of that subject to an overall decline in the PC market since the great recession of ’07 and the influx of tablets and smartphones. However, this year, AIB shipments were out of synch due to great new games and cryptocurrency mining.

AIB shipments during the quarter increased from the last quarter 29.1%, which is which is above the ten-year average of 14.4%. On a year-to-year basis, we found that total AIB shipments during the quarter rose 21.5%, which is greater than desktop PCs, which fell 8.9%.

Cryptocurrency mining was not as big influence in the AIB market this quarter as it was in the last. Nonetheless, cryptocurrency mining (especially Ethereum) is still a factor in the market, and still just as impossible to accurately measure.


Gaming the game changer. However, in spite of the overall PC churn, somewhat due to tablets and embedded graphics, the PC gaming momentum continues to build and is the bright spot in the AIB market. The impact and influence of eSports has also contributed to the market growth and attracted new users. VR continues to be interesting but is not having a measurable influence on the AIB market.


The gaming PC (system) market is as vibrant as the stand alone AIB market. All OEMs are investing in gaming space because demand for gaming PCs is robust. AMD introduced their Threadripper CPU targeted at the high-end gaming market, and Intel also validated this with their recent announcement of a new Enthusiast CPU. Furthermore, desktop gaming PCs are no longer dwarfed by the general-purpose machines. That’s not the case in the notebook market

The report contains the following content:

  • Worldwide AIB Shipment forecast by segment, 2015 to 2020.
  • Attach rate of AIBs from 2001.
  • Detailed worldwide AIB Shipment Volume, by segment, and forecast to 2020.
  • Major suppliers: Detailed market share data-on the shipments of AMD, Nvidia, and others.
  • Market share history from Q1 2004.
  • Percentage of shipments by region, from 2015 to 2020.
  • Market value of AIBs, and pricing trends
  • A Vision of the future: Building upon a solid foundation of facts, data and sober analysis, this section pulls together all of the report's findings and paints a vivid picture of where the PC graphics market is headed.
  • Memory load and forecast.

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