Intel, Nvidia, AMD Lead a PC Graphics Market Poised for Growth

Intel again leads the graphics processor market, followed by Nvidia and AMD. Despite the ongoing legal dispute between Intel and Nvdia - which was recently stirred up - each showed first-quarter growth and is expected to have a strong year ahead.

Intel continued to lead a graphics market that is poised for significant growth in 2010. While the 2009 PC graphics chip market exceeded expectations, achieving 11 percent year-over-year growth, 2010 began with the expected seasonal slowdown, Jon Peddie Research reported April 26. Still, the researcher has hopes for 2010, forecasting growth of 17.3 percent, before settling down slightly to 16.9 percent growth in 2011.

Intel again led the market, growing its share to 45.49 percent during the first quarter - up from 43.5 percent the quarter before, though down from 51.1 percent a year earlier. JPR attributed the performance to acceptance of Intel's "Clarkdale" processors - officially rolled out in January and quickly adopted by Fujitsu, among others - as well as ongoing Atom sales for netbooks.
Nvidia, in second place, jumped its market share from 31.5 percent in the fourth quarter - and 26.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009 - to 33 percent in the first quarter of 2010. On a quarter-to-quarter basis, wrote JPR, "Nvidia gained in the notebook integrated, and discrete segments, as well as the desktop integrated segment."
Come second-quarter results, Nvidia may show a boost from its relationship with Apple. In April, Apple refreshed its MacBook Pro line, and several of the notebooks' major bragging points come thanks to Nvidia's GeForce 320M processor, said to be the fastest on the market.
Third-place Advanced Micro Devices owned 25.15 percent of the market in the first quarter, up from 24 percent during the last quarter and 21.7 percent a year ago. A fraction of the gain, wrote JPR, came from the discrete desktop segment, while more than 4 percent came from integrated notebooks.
Revenue for the quarter was reportedly $1.761 billion for Intel. Nvidia, whose quarters straddle the calendar quarters, reported $982 million for its fourth quarter 2010, which ended in January. AMD's first quarter revenue was $409 million, slipping slightly from its fourth-quarter $427 million, though up from the $281 million a year ago.
While industry partners, Intel and Nvidia have nonetheless become warring rivals. In February 2009, Intel filed a suit against Nvidia in a Delaware state court, questioning whether, based on a 2004 agreement between the two, Nvidia had the right to develop chip sets for newer Intel processors, such as Nehalem. In October, Nvidia announced that, until the suit was settled, it would no longer develop chip sets for next-gen Intel processors. (The Apple MacBook Pros use discrete Nvidia GPUs that work alongside Intel chip sets.)
On April 23, Nvidia Senior Vice President Daniel Vivoli, on the San Francisco roundtable show Press:Here, pressed the matter, saying that instead of Nvidia's high-tech GPU technology, purchasers of low-end laptops, notebooks and desktops are currently subject to Intel's lower-tech GPUs, and so being denied the ability to perform functions such as quick face-recognition searches through photos or video files.
Holding on to the ends of the graphics market are VIA/SE, with 0.71 percent market share for the first quarter, Sis, with 0.22 percent and Matrox, with 0.06 percent.
JPR concluded that, in the fourth quarter of 2009, a new category, IPG (integrated processor graphics), was introduced. "We will see the rapid decline in deliveries for traditional chipset graphics or [integrated graphics processors]," states the report. "However, for ease of reporting, for now we're including these devices in our integrated numbers."