Other Developers in 2005
The second-tier graphics developers presented nothing particularly interesting to the public in the last half a year. Two events can be mentioned, though. On March 14, S3 Graphics announced their entry-level GammaChrome S18 processor which, however, never really took off due to the same reasons that had earlier ruined the DeltaChrome. We mean driver-related problems and inadequate support of modern games. As a result, none of the major graphics card and computer manufacturers wanted to do anything with that product. You can read our review of the S3 GammaChrome S18 Pro here.
On July 13, Matrox Graphics, another once-successful 3D graphics company, announced the world’s first graphics card with the PCI Express x1 interface. The Millennium G550 PCIe is in fact a PCI Express x1 version of the Matrox Millennium G550 graphics card that was originally released back in 2001. Of course, there’s no talk about 3D performance; this solution is intended for systems without a PCI Express x16 port like servers and such. It also provides an opportunity to connect simultaneously more than two monitors to the same machine. The price of this niche product was set at $139.
So, here are the three most important events in the desktop graphics world that happened in the first half of the current year:
- NVIDIA’s G70 processor is announced and starts to ship
- ATI’s CrossFire multi-GPU technology is announced
- ATI R520 processor is delayed
It seems NVIDIA’s position is stronger today. Yes, it is, but only from the technological point of view. What’s the market situation at large?
Graphics Solutions Market in H1 2005
The market at large grew in the first half of 2005 in comparison with the same period of 2004.
Intel still had the biggest share of sales (43% of the whole graphics market) in the second quarter, while ATI’s and NVIDIA’s shares were 26% and 16%, respectively. Intel and ATI Technologies performed just like in the previous quarter, but NVIDIA’s share shrunk by 2%, mostly due to the company’s failure in the low-end sector.
Yet if we only talk about discrete graphics solutions, there are no changes: NVIDIA still holds 41% of the market and ATI has 56%. The remaining 3% are shared by smaller suppliers like S3 Graphics, Matrox Graphics, XGI and others.
Meanwhile, NVIDIA has got stronger in the top-end market where it now has 73% (3% more than in the first quarter). This percentage results from the mass shipments of the GeForce 7800 GTX and from certain popularity of SLI solutions. ATI’s performance in this market sector has been worse: only 27% of the market, 3% down since the previous quarter.
On the other hand, ATI Technologies strengthened its position in the mainstream DirectX 9 compatibles sector, holding now 56% of it against NVIDIA’s 46%. That’s quite natural since the Canadian company is offering a widest range of mainstream and performance-mainstream graphics cards and collaborates actively with OEMs. ATI’s pricing policy is very aggressive, too.
The overall picture seems clear enough: NVIDIA is the leader in the top-end sector, enjoying its technological superiority, whereas ATI has opportunities to expand its influence in the mainstream sector. This situation will probably remain such till the start of mass shipments of R520-based products. We shouldn’t forget, however, that a market situation can’t change dramatically in a single moment, so we expect ATI’s market share to shrink a little further because the company delays commercial shipments of new products.