Do discrete GPUs have a future?

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

The PC market is clearly undergoing a paradigm shift, with the introduction of next-gen graphics platforms by industry heavyweights such as Intel (Sandy Bridge) and AMD (Ontario/Llano).

But will the rising popularity of such platforms come at the expense of discrete GPUs?

Well, according to Jon Peddie Research, the wave of (furture) devices offered with IGPs, EPGs and HPUs will "break" the historical rise of discrete GPU sales and put the traditional category in decline.

Do discrete GPUs have a future?"Moving graphics into the CPUs will be attractive first to the builders of low-cost machines. [For example], Intel's Core i5 (Clarkdale and Arrandale), which are Embedded Processor Graphics (EPG) units, were the first wave," explained Peddie.

"[Now], Intel's Sandybridge will be next generation, while AMD [is slated] to launch a massive SIMD GPU array in their fusion processors (Ontario and Llano) which will be the first Heterogeneous Processor Units (HPUs)."

Peddie also noted that the EPG/HPU is projected to "truly revolutionize" the PC and associated industries. 

"Because the graphics processor unit, GPU, grew in greater complexity than the CPU during the past eight years, exceeding the transistor count - and matching or exceeding the die size of the CPU - many thought the two would never be able to cohabitate.

"[Nevertheless], the amount of computation capability available in the size, weight, power consumption of systems equipped with EPG/HPUs - and for the price they will be offered - will upset the market dynamics like never before."

Total PC Embedded/Integrated Components market share












2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015
Embedded HPU 0.0%

0.0%

0.1%

2.6%

9.2%

16.9%

21.3%

24.7%
Embedded EPG 0.0%

0.0%

22.8%

42.9%

54.0%

56.6%

55.5%

53.9%
IGP 67.3%

71.2%

46.7%

25.3%

10.2%

1.9%

0.3%

0.0%
Discrete 32.7%

28.8%

30.3%

28.5%

22.7%

17.6%

14.1%

10.0%
Area of Contention 0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.7%

3.8%

7.0%

8.8%

11.4%