Graphics cards get worse over time

PC hardware: Why graphics cards are currently poorly available

The shops of the dealers are empty, but all sorts of fakes and usurious offers are piled up on Ebay: If you want to buy a current AMD or Nvidia graphics card, you have to spend a lot more money than the models are officially supposed to cost, or sometimes for weeks waiting. Because regardless of whether Geforce RTX 3090/3080/3070 or Radeon RX 6800 (XT), the market is empty.

  1. QUNDIS GmbH, Mannheim
  2. via duerenhoff GmbH, Frankfurt am Main

Some providers deal with the situation transparently, Proshop, for example, reveals how many graphics cards have been ordered by the respective manufacturers, how many are on the road and how many people are waiting for their pixel accelerator. It is noticeable that the ratio of cards ordered to those that were sent to Proshop by AMDs and Nvidia's partners continues to be very poor.

Deliveries from Asia to Europe are currently suffering from the fact that the prices for air and sea freight have risen significantly. But that alone is not the reason for the poor availability, it is to be found further down the supply chain. All partners obtain their graphics chips - often as a package including video memory - from AMD and Nvidia. They, in turn, depend on the GPUs and the GDDR6 (X) being produced in the appropriate quantities by the few contract manufacturers.

AMD has the supposed advantage here of having it manufactured by the world's largest foundry. However, the capacity of TSMC has its limits somewhere, especially since AMD is competing with itself: The Navi-21 GPUs of the Radeon RX 6800 are manufactured using a 7 nm process, as are the CPU chips and SoCs, which are then called Epyc for Server and as Ryzen for desktop, embedded and mobile are sold. Nvidia has the gigantic GA100 chip produced by TSMC, and the processors of the Playstation 5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S all use the 7 nm capacities.

  1. Introduction to programming with Rust
    21.-24. September 2021, online
  2. Data engineering with Apache Spark
    27.-28. September 2021, online
Further IT training

Even more factors come together at Nvidia: The GDDR6X memory for the Geforce RTX 3090/3080 is manufactured exclusively by Micron, there is no option to switch to Samsung or SK Hynix. For the GA102 and GA104 chips, Nvidia has turned away from TSMC and therefore does not compete with AMD or the console manufacturers, but CEO Jensen Huang says that the situation with the Geforce RTX 3000 will not relax for a few months at the earliest.

Huang is atypically specific and refers to semiconductor production, the cycles of which Nvidia is also subject to. The GA102 / GA104 chips are produced by Samsung Foundry in the process called 8N, an adapted 8LLPP node. A complete wafer fab cycle takes several weeks, but no manufacturer reveals publicly how high the yield will be in the end. At 628 mm² and 392 mm², the Ampere GPUs are much larger than the processors that Samsung usually produces - this can be problematic, but it doesn't have to be.

AMD graphics cards at Alternate

In the case of limited capacity or even manufacturing problems, an option in favor of availability would theoretically have been that AMD and Nvidia would simply have released their graphics cards later so that more chips are available. From the manufacturer's point of view, however, that would be lost sales, because what is sold to the partners is considered booked. So as long as no more GPUs are shipped, better availability cannot be expected. However, we do not know whether TSMC will be able to process more 7 nm wafers and Samsung Foundry will be able to produce more 8N chips in the future.