AMD Overtakes Nvidia in Graphics Shipments for First Time in 5 Years


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AMD saw its share of the graphics market surge in Q2 2019, with total shipments larger than Nvidia for the first time in five years. At the same time, Nvidia retains a hard lock on the add-in board market for desktops, with approximately two-thirds of total market share. And while these gains are significant, it’s also worth considering why they didn’t drive any particular “pop” in AMD’s overall financial figures for Q2.

First, let’s talk about the total graphics market. There are three players here: Intel, AMD, and Nvidia. Because this report considers the totality of the graphics space, and 2/3 of systems ship without a separate GPU,SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce both AMD and Nvidia are minority players in this market. AMD, however, has an advantage — it builds CPUs with an onboard graphics solution, like Intel. Nvidia does not. Thus, we have to acknowledge that the total market space includes companies with a very different suite of products:

Intel: Integrated-only (until next year), no discrete GPUs, but accounts for a majority of total shipments.
AMD: Integrated GPUs and discrete cards, but with very little presence in upper-end mobile gaming.
Nvidia: No integrated solutions. Discrete GPUs only.

Graphics-Market-Share-JPR

According to JPR, AMD’s shipments increased by 9.8 percent, Intel shipments fell by 1.4 percent, and Nvidia shipments were flat, at 0.04 percent. This jives with reports from early in the year, which suggested that AMD would take market share from Intel due to CPU shortages. Separately from its global report, JPR also publishes a separate document on the desktop add-in board (AIB) market. This report only considers the discrete GPU space between Nvidia and AMD (Intel will compete in this space when it launches Xe next year). AMD and Nvidia split this space — and again, AMD showed significant growth, with a ten percent improvement in market share.

Image by Jon Peddie Research

If you pay attention to financial reports, however, you may recall that AMD’s Q2 2019 sales results were reasonable, but not spectacular. Both companies reported year-on-year sales declines. Nvidia’s fiscal year Q2 2020 results, which the company reported a few weeks back, showed gaming revenue falling 27 percent year-on-year. AMD doesn’t break out GPU and CPU sales — it combines them both into a single category — but its combined Compute and Graphics revenue reports were lower on a yearly basis as well:

AMD-Financial-Q2-2019

During the first half of the year, AMD was thought to be gaining market share at Intel’s expense, but these gains were largely thought to be at the low-end of the market. AMD launched its first Chromebooks with old Carrizo APUs, for example. This explains the growth in unit shipments in the total GPU space, as well as why the company didn’t show a tremendous profit from its gains. Growth in the AIB market may be explained by the sale of GPUs like the RX 570. This card has consistently been an incredibly good value — Nvidia didn’t bother distributing review GPUs for the GTX 1650 because the RX 570 is decisively faster, according to multiple reviews. But GPU sales have been down overall. According to JPR, AIB sales fell 16.6 percent quarter-to-quarter, and 39.7 percent year-on-year.

This explains why AMD’s strong market share gains didn’t translate to improved C&G sales revenue. The company earns less revenue on low-end sales compared with high-end cards. And its market share improvements have been overshadowed by a huge decline in AIB sales year-on-year, likely due to the combination of lingering crypto hangover and a weak overall enthusiast market in Q2.

Q3 will be a much more significant quarter for both companies. Not only does it typically improve on the basis of seasonality alone, but both Nvidia and AMD introduced price cuts and new products. AMD’s Navi powers the excellent 5700 and 5700 XT, which are both faster than the Nvidia refreshes of the RTX 2060 and RTX 2070 (now dubbed the RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super, respectively). Nvidia, in turn, offers ray tracing and variable rate shading — two features that are used in very few games today but may become more popular in the future. AMD lacks these features.

The two companies have staked out opposing strategies for boosting their respective market share. It’ll be interesting to see how consumers do or don’t respond to their separate value propositions.

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Minecraft Will Receive Nvidia-Exclusive RTX Update for Raytracing Support


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Last week, Mojang announced that the Minecraft Super Duper Graphics Pack (SDGP) that Microsoft had promised back in 2017 was canceled, permanently. No additional information was offered on why the update was canceled, or what the team had been working on for the past two years before canceling it. As of today, Nvidia has announced that it will be developing an exclusive ray tracing pack for Minecraft for Nvidia GPU owners.

Mojang’s announcement states: “It’ll be playable on Windows 10 with devices that are capable of DirectX R, such as with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPU (and we plan to expand it to future platforms that support DirectX R raytracing).”

Presumably, DirectX R is a reference to DXR, which is the official name for DirectX ray tracing. RTX is Nvidia’s brand-name for its implementation of the Microsoft DXR standard. We imagine AMD will introduce its own branding or simply use the DXR moniker when it launches support. Speaking of AMD, we don’t know if the “future platforms” is a reference to systems like the PS5 and Xbox Next or whether it’s a reference to Big Navi, which is expected to debut next year.

“Ray tracing sits at the center of what we think is next for Minecraft,” said Saxs Persson, head creative director for Minecraft at Microsoft. “GeForce RTX gives the Minecraft world a brand-new feel to it. In normal Minecraft, a block of gold just appears yellow, but with ray tracing turned on, you really get to see the specular highlight, you get to see the reflection, you can even see a mob reflected in it.”

Minecraft-RTX-versus-Off

The screenshot above shows the impact of having RTX enabled versus disabled, with the divider halfway down the screen. RTX-enabled is on the right.

There’s likely a relationship between the cancellation of the SDGP and Nvidia’s announcement that it will provide a path tracing solution for Minecraft, but there’s no indication of what the exact relationship was. The SDGP was in development for a long time and Mojang was always very tight-lipped about its progress. Developer communication on this point, when it occurred, amounted to “nothing to report, full engine updates are very complicated and you’ll see it when it’s closer to done than it is now.”

It’s possible that Nvidia saw the work being done by third-party modders to integrate ray tracing into Minecraft, was inspired by it, and reached out to Mojang about the possibility directly. But even if Mojang liked the idea, it’s highly unlikely that the company would cancel two years worth of work on its own overhaul. But all of this is rather confusing because Mojang announced the launch of its own new rendering pipeline as part of its overall RTX graphics cardSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce support. The Bedrock version of Minecraft will be updated with a new graphics rendering pipeline, codenamed Render Dragon.

In other words: When Microsoft announced the Super Duper Graphics Pack, it announced that the SDGP would be introduced alongside a new graphics engine implemented in the Bedrock version of the game. Earlier this year, we covered an extensive path tracing Minecraft mod that turned the game into a vision of beauty. Now, Nvidia has cut a deal with Mojang to build an RTX-powered version of the game and Mojang has killed the SDGP, but will still introduce the updated rendering engine the SDGP was expected to use.

If we had to guess, we’d guess that Mojang’s comments about DXR compatibility refer to other consoles, or at least the Xbox Next. Nvidia isn’t going to do any work to provide ray tracing support on a non-Nvidia GPU, but Microsoft is unlikely to invest heavily in a ray-tracing update for Minecraft that can’t run on its own Xbox Next. Whatever gets hammered out between them, it wouldn’t surprise us if AMD GPU customers who don’t game on consoles are out of luck with this one. Modders have already created a path-traced version of Minecraft that looks extraordinary, so at least third-party options will continue to be available.

The RTX-powered version of Minecraft should arrive sometime in 2020. Hopefully, Nvidia will pay better attention to performance optimization than it did in Quake II — that particular game runs quite slowly, despite the age of the underlying engine. Minecraft’s greatest strength is its ability to play on anything, and as great as it is to see features like path tracing, we hope Nvidia can offer them without destroying performance. Features like 4K support, which was a major capability of the SDGP, have not been mentioned.

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Minecraft to get big lighting, shadow and color upgrades through Nvidia ray tracing – gpgmail


Minecraft is getting a free update that brings much-improved lighting and color to the game’s blocky graphics using real-time ray tracing running on Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics hardware. The new look is a dramatic change in the atmospherics of the game, and manages to be eerily realistic while retaining Minecraft’s pixelated charm.

The ray tracing tech will be available via a free update to the game on Windows 10 PCs, but it’ll only be accessible to players using an Nvidia GeForce RTX GPU, since that’s the only graphics hardware on the market that currently supports playing games with real-time ray tracing active.

It sounds like it’ll be an excellent addition to the experience for players who are equipped with the right hardware, however – including lighting effects not only from the sun, but also from in-game materials like glowstone and lava; both hard and soft shadows depending on transparency of material and angle of light refraction; and accurate reflections in surfaces that are supposed to be reflective (ie. gold blocks, for instance).

This is welcome news after Minecraft developer Mojang announced last week that it cancelled plans to release its Super Duper Graphics Pack, which was going to add a bunch of improved visuals to the game, because it wouldn’t work well across platforms. At the time, Mojang said it would be sharing news about graphics optimization for some platforms “very soon,” and it looks like this is what they had in mind.

Nvidia meanwhile is showing off a range of 2019 games with real-time ray tracing enabled at Gamescom 2019 in Cologne, Germany, including Dying Light 2, Cyperpunk 2077, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Watch Dogs: Legion.


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