Can you remember the last time you purchased a graphics card? If you're in the same boat as PC gamers at large, it was probably a long time ago, before the Great GPU Shortage of 2020/2021, caused by a spike in cryptocurrency mining, having to compete with scalpers and bots, and just not enough silicon to go around.
Be that as it may, overall GPU shipments are holding strong, just don't buy one for cryptocurrency mining if the opportunity presents itself.
That's according to Jon Peddie Research, a well known marketing, research, and consulting firm. JPR's latest report highlights a greater than 20 percent jump in total GPU shipments in the fourth quarter of last year, and a 12.4 percent rise for all of 2021.
Those figures include integrated graphics, hence Intel leads the way with the biggest share of the PC GPU market—many of its CPUs have onboard graphics. When narrowing the focus on standalone desktop graphics cards, shipments slipped slightly by 3.9 percent last quarter.
That's not surprising, really. According to JPR, overall GPU shipments are typically flat in the fourth quarter compared to the previous one, so a small slippage in discrete-only GPUs during a period of short supply is actually right on par with expectations. And as a whole, overall GPU shipments defied the trend.
JPR certainly isn't worried about the 3.9 percent drop—the firm predicts discrete GPU shipments are on track to grow 21 percent over the next five years, bolstered by gaming and the continued proliferation of home offices. Interestingly, JPR does not see cryptocurrency mining as being a driving force.
"There has been speculation that there might be a renewal in demand for AIBs due to crypto mining. Anything is possible, but the power consumption of AIBs greatly diminishes the payoff for crypto-mining. Ethereum, the best-suited coin for GPUs, will fork into version 2.0 very soon, making GPUs obsolete," Jon Peddie, president of JPR, said in a statement.
"A person would be very foolish to invest in a high-end, power-consuming AIB for crypto-mining today," Peddie added.
Also encouraging is that semiconductor vendors are guiding up for the next quarter, albeit just slightly. And it's worth noting that US President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order that is intended to address the global chip shortage, as urged by a letter co-signed by AMD, Intel, and Nvidia.
So there is reason to be optimistic, unless you're a crypto-miner, in which case all bets are off. Forgive us if we're unsympathetic.