GDDR6 memory shortage now said to be behind Nvidia and AMD stock woes

Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics cards
(Image credit: Nvidia)

If you've been watching the absolute shambles that is the world of GPU stock recently, you may be wondering what's causing the shortages. No, it's not because someone stole them all (though that certainly didn't help). It seems the root of the problem runs deeper. At the heart of it: GDDR6 module supply. 

AMD has been keeping schtum on the subject—maybe believing silence will make the problem will go away. Nvidia on the other hand has been more forthcoming, noting that GPU supply shortages stem not only from wafer supply issues, but also lack of component and substrate stock. As outlined at the recent Credit Suisse 24th Annual Technology Conference by Colette Kress, Nvidia's CFO:

"We do have supply constraints and our supply constraints do expand past what we are seeing in terms of wafers and silicon, but yes some constraints are in substrates and components."

Now, the plot thickens. With sources (via Videocardz) blaming the fact there are "fewer GDDR6 modules" to go around. This is due to AIBs' tendency to buy GPUs and memory modules together, in bulk. It's a pretty standard move, but it means the GPU stock coming into third party manufacturers warehouses is directly affected by the drop in GDDR6 supply—no point getting GPUs in if there's a distinct lack of a memory buffer to slap on there.

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(Image credit: MSI)

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As such, even higher-end GDDR6X based cards like the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 have been affected by the stock discrepancy, though supposedly less so than GDDR6 models. They're still just as impossible to get hold of, though.

Supply isn't expected to improve until February next year at the earliest, as Kress notes:

"We continue to work during the quarter on our supply and we believe though that demand will probably exceed supply in Q4 for overall gaming."

Still, just remember when you're pining over these elusive next-gen GPUs, necessary COVID vaccines and medical stock are likely to take shipping priority over the next few months—perhaps a little more important, given the current state of the world.

In spite of everything, January is going to be a whirlwind of tech announcements. Setting off the new year with virtual CES festivities, Nvidia is expected to pull out some lower end Ampere cards, including the RTX 3060 (backwards much?) and RTX 3050 GPU's, with a host of mobile Ampere SKUs to boot. AMD may not be far behind with new Navi goodies, either. 

Whether anyone will be able to get their hands on anything being announced is another matter entirely.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.