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Cheap graphics cards? Forget it!

Cheap graphics cards? Forget it!

[13:43 fri,8.January 2021   by ]    

Although a number of new graphics cards were introduced in the fall of 2020, the availability is still extremely poor. And unfortunately, there is no improvement in sight. At Nvidia, the poor yield of the 8nm Samsung production was previously considered the main reason for the shortage, at AMD it was high utilization of the chip manufacturer TSMC, which not only has to produce AMD&s GPUs in the 7nm process, but also CPUs as well as the chips for the new Xbox and Playstation 5 in enormous quantities.

On the demand side, gaming remains an unexpectedly strong business if only because of Corona, and consoles and graphics cards were additionally in high demand as Christmas gifts. This unfortunate confluence of supply bottlenecks and high demand caused hardware prices to shoot up to unimaginable heights in some cases.

Now, however, Christmas is over and many a patient buyer hopes for an easing of the situation. But unfortunately, the chances for cheaper GPUs remain poor.

In any case, the Corona crisis will drag on at least until summer and the associated effects will even keep us busy for several years. Not only are many supply chains disrupted, but the trade war between America and China also makes many components significantly more expensive due to high tariffs.


So now a Technical Marketing Manager from Asus announced noticeable price increases in a DIY Facebook group:

"Our new prices reflect cost increases for components, operating costs, and logistics activities, as well as a continuation of import tariffs. We have worked closely with our supply and logistics partners to minimize price increases."

Another issue that has not been widely discussed could be the shortage of manufacturing materials for chip production:

For example, there are reports that chipmakers are not receiving enough ABF substrate. ABF (Ajinomoto Build-up Film) is a type of resin that is sandwiched between lithography layers and the package. ABF is incredibly important to the chip packaging process and a persistent shortage is hitting pretty much everyone using advanced packaging standards.

Extreme Tech even suspects that the ABF shortage may be the root cause of the major chipmakers& shortages. And if TSMC can&t buy enough ABF, the impact would spread across the market and hit a number of companies. So not just AMD but also Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung, all of which also need ABF. DigiTimes first reported on an ABF shortage in June 2020 and speculated that it could expand and worsen in 2021. According to Extreme Tech, that prediction appears to be coming true.


In addition, there are many other imponderables. Heise, among others, even brings logistical bottlenecks said to be caused by the priority of Corona vaccines on the world market into play.

Also, the again rampant BitCoin fever is likely to ensure high GPU demand by miners. Last but not least, there are the retailers who are happy to take advantage of the GPU shortage to sell the few cards available at a salted markup.

In short, it will likely be a long time before prices for current GPUs return to a reasonable level. But to be honest, many used models are still easily sufficient for most applications.

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