Card makers said to be ‘cautious’ about 28-nm GPUs

Manufacturers of graphics cards are taking a measured approach to the arrival of next-generation of graphics processors, according to a story by DigiTimes. The site reports that "most" card makers based in Taiwan are being more cautious than they’ve been with past launches, and it cites two contributing factors.

First, the manufacturers reportedly worry that TSMC will run into yield issues with its 28-nm process, just as the company did two years ago with the first batch of 40-nm products. On top of that, DigiTimes claims graphics card makers have seen their sales shrink lately—both at the low end, where CPUs with integrated graphics are replacing cheap discrete GPUs, and at the high end. (I’m guessing the stagnating hardware requirements for modern games don’t help there.)

The site doesn’t go into detail about the effects of this added caution on the part of the card makers. Perhaps we’ll end up seeing fewer coolers emblazoned with cyborg frogs and fewer variants of identical cards—and that would be fine by me. Coupled with rumors that supply of 28-nm Radeons will initially be limited, though, this report doesn’t sound terribly encouraging.

Comments closed
    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    Hopefully, video card companies begin to realize they can’t keep selling high end video cards for $400-$600 and start to hit more realistic price points with their high end parts. If they don’t and continue to insist they need those highest price points, they’re going to be totally irrelevant when Intel finally makes its way to an integrated GPU that’s good enough for 1080p with medium detail.

    Better they make the transition now and keep users deadset on dedicated.

    • Duck
    • 8 years ago

    Part of the reason 40nm was so troubled was that it was a bigger than normal process shrink form the previous node. Going from 40nm to 28nm is an even bigger jump.

    Time will tell if it was the right decision to cancel 32nm. It may have been better to run with 32nm and delay 28nm for a while. At least that would provide a more consistent transition with a steady improvement in graphics cards like we are used to. Reduced yield issues too I bet.

    • michael_d
    • 8 years ago

    I would like to get 1 or 2 for Metro Last Night. I can understand why the manufacturers are cautious, we have not seen a really demanding game since Metro 2033. Most people see no reason for an upgrade as even BF3 falls short graphically.

    • Krogoth
    • 8 years ago

    The real reason for the decline?

    PC gaming is becoming a smaller and smaller niche. This is from a number of reasons.

    As a consequence, the demand for faster GPUs is fading away. AMD and Nvidia have already seen the writing years ago. That’s why they are expanding their interests elsewhere.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Yes. And as soon as next-gen consoles come out, PC gaming will die for good.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 8 years ago

        Pfff no it won’t. It will just make porting to PC that much easier! :p

        • Draphius
        • 8 years ago

        unfortunatly i agree with you. i think the next generation of consoles is going to be pretty much as powerful as what we have in pc gaming today yet everything will be optimized and im hearing they are going to be putting 8+ cpu cores into the console. i mean u can take a console game today using the old hardware and they can make a game look pretty darn good using that old tech. i think the new hardware with all the optimizations and common toolset that they will be making games that put pc graphics to shame and the only way for someone to compete with a pc is to spend thousands of dollars to match the performance. i hope im wrong though cause i hate consoles, half the fun is building the computer and tweaking it to play the games

          • Arclight
          • 8 years ago

          Dream on, it will probably last for a year if not less till next gen PC parts….just like it was for the old consoles. It costs $700 to make a box worthy of playing BF3 at High settings. If you have a good PC to begin with it will only cost ~$200 for a new video card. Old myths like “good gaming machines cost way over $1000” need to die.

      • BestJinjo
      • 8 years ago

      Oct 27, 2011 – AMD earnings: Graphics chip revenue was up 4 percent in the third quarter compared to a year ago.

      Just because we haven’t had a new 28nm GPU generation, doesn’t mean the market is fading. More and more PC games are sold every year actually. I am way too lazy to pull up stats for you but it’s a huge billion dollar market.

        • HighTech4US2
        • 8 years ago

        Yet they only made a piddling $12 million in profit.

        Nvidia made $152 million in profit last quarter.

        Looks like AMD doesn’t get squat for their GPUs.

    • Xenolith
    • 8 years ago

    People are quick to blame consoles. Take a look at games that attempt to take advantage of modern cards (Rage, Battlefield 3, etc.). Think of the man hours and money that it takes to add the additional detail to a game. Do they get that money back that they invested? Usually the answer is no.

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      So you want us not to blame consoles and at the same time pitty developers for the extra time they have to give to improve multi-platform games so that they take advantage of the PC? Aren’t they supposed to do that? Or did you expect the developing was done after they finished the game for the xbox and Ps3?

      If they want to make games for the PC they MUST spend that [s<]extra[/s<] necessary time, it's only logical and i don't see why it's supposed to be a unkown fact.

        • Austin
        • 8 years ago

        😉 I don’t believe it has to be much extra work to port to the PC from xbox, no more work than porting between xbox & ps3.

          • Arclight
          • 8 years ago

          Porting a game is one thing. Tailoring that game to that specific platform is another thing. We have plenty of ports but most of them are not tailored to the PC lacking many options or features that old games had for the PC. Starting from mouse options (or lack of thereof) and ending with graphics settings (or lack of thereof).

          In 2004 i was able to enable/disable in game frames per second counter, cap maximum frames, connect to servers, tweak crosshair dimension and color, record plays with in-game recorder, turn on or off microphone and so much more by using the console by pressing this key ~

          At the end of 2011 i can only tweak mouse sensitivity (by sliding a bar, it doesn’t even give me numbers to tweak it exactly) and a few graphical options at best.

            • yogibbear
            • 8 years ago

            IF you started with everything and then cut things for the consoles, you end up with PC looking graphics on the PC, and a bloody stunning console level graphics where they can continue to pick and choose which settings to retain right up until going gold for releasing the game on the consoles. (with some stuttering)

            IF you start with an optimised game for consoles, you get 60 fps, not many stutters. But then you port it to PC and there’s simply no options to add anything and now it takes a TONNE of effort to piss fart around adding in invisible ocean when there should be no ocean and 2 ^ 200 pixel square planks of wood.

        • Xenolith
        • 8 years ago

        It is a lot of work to add extra texture detail and effects to a game. We are talking million of dollars for a high end game. The extra investment just doesn’t make money. Porting Xbox <–> PS3 is relatively easy compared to that. Game developers are actually dreading the PS4 and Xbox 720, because of the extra time and cost to make games for those systems. That’s why these new systems are so slow in coming out.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        No, it’s much simpler than that.

        As the scope and visual quality increase, it takes more and more man-hours to create satisfactory art.

        I don’t care if you’re making a game for the PC, PS3 or iPhone, [i<]any[/i<] increase in scope or quality requires an increase in art investment.

          • Arclight
          • 8 years ago

          So what are you saying? Why are you people defending developers which create shitty console ports? This is a PC website, are you typing that message from an xbox? Is this opposite day or what is going on here?

            • ImSpartacus
            • 8 years ago

            I’m saying exactly what I wrote.

            Battlefield 3 is an awesomely detailed game with an enormous scope. It probably cost a boatload in art alone.

            Considering the art, it cost a lot more to get those detailed PC textures. From a purely business perspective, it was a poor investment. The extra PC sales probably won’t be as proportionally profitable as the porting investment of the console version. However, there’s also the public image to think of, so it’s not surprising that Battlefield 3 will be an incredible PC game.

            But for games that don’t have such a PC-centric image to uphold? There’s very little incentive to pay a ton of money on high res art assets if your PC version isn’t going to sell as well as the (cheaper to make) console version.

            • Arclight
            • 8 years ago

            Well if PC is such a hole sucking developers money why don’t they stop making games for this platform? I would be much happier with only 3-4 true PC games/year then a slew of console ports. I bet they would get more sales too given the rarity of offerings….

      • shank15217
      • 8 years ago

      Additional detail? Game art in video games is a subtractive process not an additive one. The reason why console game ports are crap is because game play is never tailored to PCs to start with and pc gamers expect more from the games because traditionally pc gamers were much more immersive and fun to play. Also game engines are tailored to console hardware so all the nice features pcs expose are never used.

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion.

      • blugbox
      • 8 years ago

      I created an account just to +1 this. Thank you.

      • RAMBO
      • 8 years ago

      great movie

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    Add to that that GPUs just haven’t been getting faster like they used to. This is not surprising at all.

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      It was the 40nm process to blame or rather lack of 32 nm process. They could only squeeze so much in 2 generations out of the same node.

      • bcronce
      • 8 years ago

      GPUs have been outpacing a 2xs increase in FLOPS per 18 months, all the while being stuck at 40nm for 3 years.

      It’s not GPUs not getting faster, it’s games not making use of DX11 and multi-core CPUS, which means games are not making full use of modern GPUs.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 8 years ago

        They only accomplished that by ignoring power use and pushing it through the roof. That just gives us exactly what you described – more of the same. Higher and higher end cards become increasingly niche, and have no impact on the stagnated laptop and low to midrange cards that people actually buy.

          • bcronce
          • 8 years ago

          If the fab plants weren’t failing at making 32/28nm, we wouldn’t have our current power draw “problem”.

          It’s still impressive that they have been able to keep the performance increasing, albeit at the cost of peak power draw.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 8 years ago

            Not really. You can do the same thing with a multi-die CPU, except with a performance advantage at the same power level, despite the fact that CPUs don’t scale as well. It costs more, but so does a larger GPU that’s pretty much the same circuits copied and pasted some more.

            AMD and Nvidia both increased the speed, power and [b<]price[/b<] at the same tme. It was nothing but trade offs and that's why faster GPUs didn't change anything. $100 still buys you the same thing as $100 three years ago, and even the $150-200 range didn't fare much better. How the heck were demanding DX11 features like tesseleation supposed to be standardized?

            • Game_boy
            • 8 years ago

            When the 4850 at $95 was better value than most of today’s field you know the industry has a problem.

      • shank15217
      • 8 years ago

      GPUs are getting faster by leaps and bounds, its just that the additional resources exposed by the gpus aren’t being utilized.

    • colinstu
    • 8 years ago

    Stagnating high end markets!? You mean where the GTX 580 has been the top-end card for a year? LOL. Don’t blame the consumer for that one. I have been waiting for a replacement for awhile… hell give me a shrink if that’s the only thing you’re gonna do.

      • wobbles-grogan
      • 8 years ago

      It all goes back to consoles. They are limiting the need for better graphics hardware on the PC, which then limits the need for consumers (and therefore companies) to buy (make) better high end cards…

      • sirsoffrito
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, I’ve got to say, the gtx 580 has been one of the best investments I’ve made. It has been king for a *while* as far as computing hardware is concerned.

      Things is, I’ve built my monster rig. I’d like to put together something much smaller with most of the bang a full tower has. Smaller processes and lower power draw cards could allow me to do just that. Still waiting.

        • BestJinjo
        • 8 years ago

        The HD5870 which came out for $379 in September of 2009 has been an even better investment. Heck, HD5850 overclocked was probably the best thing back then. 2 of those for $550 in Crossfire are still faster than a GTX580 and came out 2 years ago.

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      GTX 580 has been king of single GPU card/setups, but not even close to king of video cards. I’ll list a few superiors: HD 5850 in CF, HD 5870 in CF, HD 5970, HD 6950 in CF, HD 6950 with 6970 BIOS in CF, HD 6970 in CF, HD 6990 GTX 470 in SLi, GTX 480 in SLi, GTX 560 in SLi, GTX 560 Ti in SLi, GTX 590. Some of this setups could have been bought way before the launch of the GTX 580. But there is also the problem of microstuttering but i digress.

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 8 years ago

        Considering the mess that was the Rage and Battlefield 3 launch with AMD cards, CF or otherwise, I don’t think I would be talking about them as a “great investment.” Their driver team has a ways to go before their cards are considered reliable. Too bad, they had just seemed to be making strides and then disaster struck twice in a month.

        It takes real effort to compile a driver with an ancient OpenGL component, though. I’ll give them mad props for REALLY screwing the pooch on that one…

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]most Taiwan-based graphics card makers hold a conservative attitude about the new GPUs with some makers cautiously watching the market status before making any further decisions, according to industry sources.[/quote<] So we are talking about partners here right? Cause i didn't knew AMD or nvidia weren't willing to 1 up their competitors and be first on the market....

      • khands
      • 8 years ago

      Most likely, I know AMD wants it out the door ASAP.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]graphics card makers have seen their sales shrink lately... at the high end. (I'm guessing the stagnating hardware requirements for modern games don't help there)[/quote<] And I'm guessing the stagnating economy isn't helping either.

      • BestJinjo
      • 8 years ago

      – The economy is not stagnating. US had an annualized GDP growth of 2.5% for Q3.
      – Consumer spending is up
      – Most companies in S&P 500 provided cautious forecasts, but reported good profits/earnings
      – Hedge funds are moving long into commodities
      – S&P just posted the biggest monthly rebound since 1974.
      – Chinese economy is still growing at around 7-8%, down from 9% (but still amazing)
      – Domestic car sales are up, AMD and Intel posted growth as well, etc. etc. etc.

      There is way too much fear that doesn’t align with major economic indicators. US is having growth, albeit not as fast as we would like. It’s simply a jobless recovery, but in no way shape or form did the economy stagnate.

      BTW, AMD just posted a 4% growth in graphics.

        • Suspenders
        • 8 years ago

        “It’s simply a jobless recovery, but in no way shape or form did the economy stagnate.”

        Do you not see a contradiction in that sentence?

        The economy is fine if you don’t count the millions of job losses, stagnant or shrinking middle class, stagnant or shrinking incomes for the bottom 90%, bankrupt state/municipal governments, and Europe circling the drain.

          • RAMBO
          • 8 years ago

          yeah sounds like “the economy is not in recession” is just more BS from the tea baggers

        • RAMBO
        • 8 years ago

        If millions are unemployed then yes the economy is stagnating. Growth doesn’t mean squat if the rich are hording it all and controling the government.

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 8 years ago

    So when can we expect some other foundry (GloFo?) to start making GPUs?

      • HighTech4US2
      • 8 years ago

      Go ahead with GloFlo and see what a bigger mess you’ll get. Llano and BD are a mess because of GloFlo so yea lets give them more to screw up.

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