Weak fourth quarter for graphic chips -

Jon Peddie Research (JPR) has released its latest estimates for the global graphic chips market. According to the firm, growth for the full year 2010 was less than expected, clocking in at a dismal 4.3 percent. JPR claimed this was a "disappointing result", considering last year had started happily.

More than 113 graphic chips, including CPUs laden with graphics, were shipped in the final quarter. Intel did well thanks to Sandy Bridge, Clarksdale and its Atom featuring non-spiffing integrated graphics. Yet fabless AMD and Nvidia managed to grow a tad quarter over quarter, making Chipzilla cry like a lion with a thorn in his paw.

JPR states it doesn't really know why on earth the growth rate was so lacklustre. Research firms are currently twiddling their nozzles and scratching their heads with what to make of 2010. As the company writes, "this uncertainty in definition, methodology, and sell through is shaking up the fluffy white stuff in our snow globe and making seeing into the future challenging."

According to JPR, some analysts believe sales of tablets - such as the must-have iProduct of the Season, the iPad - have been gobbling up sales of low-end PCs. After all, why splosh out money for a PC if you can pay more money for something which, by comparison, can't do all too much, yet will make neighbours and friends salivate with envy? JPR expects tablets to hack and slash sales of low-end notebooks.

Nonetheless the company is rather up-beat about this year's outlook. "The full adoption of DX 11 for mainstream and high-end systems will take place putting a premium on GPU sales, AMD's Fusion and Intel’s Sandy Bridge should hit their stride. Couple all that with an improving US and World economy, and 2011 should be solid year all-around," wrote the research firm. The graphics industry certainly hopes so.

One thing is for certain - should Nvidia's Tegra 2 3D and later generations hold their promise, then tablets and feature-heavy smartphones will indeed start cannibalising the netbook and low-end notebook markets.

Vendor Q4 2010 Q3 2010 Unit Growth Qtr-Qtr Q4 2009 Growth Year-Over-Year
AMD 24.2% 23% 2.3% 21.7% 11.2%
Intel 52.5% 55.2% -7.3% 51.1% 2.9%
Nvidia 22.5% 21% 4.1% 26.5% -15.1%
Matrox 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 30.1%
SiS 0.0% 0.0% -100% 0.0% -100.0%
VIA/S3 0.8% 0.8% -1.9% 0.7% 19.5%
Total 100% 100% -2.6% 100% 0.0%