Inside the GPU Shortage: Why You Still Can’t Buy a Graphics Card

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(Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Version)

Wish to construct a PC with probably the most up-to-date elements? Good luck. The business has been grappling with a part scarcity for years, however the issue was laid naked in 2020 because the pandemic delayed shipments simply as individuals retreated to dwelling places of work and began looking for the gear they wanted to maintain their companies afloat.

Then, as new GPUs hit the market, scalpers—a few of whom had been attempting to make ends meet after having misplaced jobs throughout the pandemic—used bots to scoop up the sought-after playing cards and promote them at inflated costs. Others turned to GPU-intensive cryptocurrency mining.

Chipmakers and retailers have taken steps to combat the scalpers and crypto miners, however execs nonetheless predict the availability will stay tight into 2022. Right here’s how we received right here.


Pre-COVID

Years within the making: As our sister web site ExtremeTech explains, pre-2020 GPU shortages hint again within the close to time period to restricted yields on 16nm GPUs in 2016 and cryptocurrency-related demand in 2017 and 2018. (Mining setup in your mother’s basement, anybody?) On the identical time, Intel was coping with a barely extra sophisticated CPU scarcity.


February 2020

Nvidia will get spooked: As COVID-19 cripples the worldwide provide chain, Nvidia lowers its income projections for Q1 2020 by $100 million. Seems, it did not have a lot to fret about, however extra on that later.


March 2020

Picture: Zoom

The pandemic goes international. Shortly after the World Well being Group formally declares COVID-19 a pandemic, cities lock down, borders shut, and tens of millions are laid off. Main retailers swap indoor looking for curbside pickup, and those that have cash to spend flip to on-line buying, overloading websites like Amazon, the place ship dates for PC elements rapidly slip to late April.

Everybody wants a PC. The Zoom life begins, and for many individuals, sharing one household laptop not does the trick. Chromebook and pill gross sales growth, and we kick off what is going to develop into the most important yr for PC demand in a decade, placing added stress on chip makers.


August 2020

Xe HPG, anybody? Intel pronounces it would compete with AMD and Nvidia by releasing its first discrete graphics playing cards for PC gaming in 2021.


September 2020

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Founders EditionNvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Version

The GPU-apocalypse begins. Nvidia launches the primary of its next-generation graphics playing cards, the GeForce RTX 3000 collection. The RTX 3080 Founders’ Version earns our Editors’ Selection award as the brand new king of 4K gaming and the following nice step in GPU evolution. However even when you have $699 to spare, this GPU is difficult to come back by. 

RTX 3090? Additionally unattainable to purchase. Every week after the 3080 launches, the RTX 3090 graphics card faces related provide points. Scheduled to hit Nvidia’s web site at 6 a.m. PST, the 3090 is nearly instantly listed as out of inventory.


October 2020

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Founders EditionNvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Version

Enter the scalpers. With most of those GPU gross sales taking place on-line, scalpers rapidly crash the social gathering, tapping into bots that may snap up obtainable stock earlier than the typical individual has time to click on “add to cart.” We converse to individuals promoting entry to their bots for a pair hundred bucks. Many patrons are tech-savvy however out-of-work individuals trying to make a couple of bucks. One such purchaser claims to have scored 42 GeForce RTX 3080 playing cards in seconds. Later, we lease our personal bot, and discover it underwhelming.

Greatest Purchase steps in. With the bot state of affairs uncontrolled, and playing cards winding up on eBay at massively inflated costs, Nvidia stops promoting the RTX 3080 and 3090 Founders Version graphics playing cards through its on-line retailer, and shifts gross sales to Greatest Purchase within the US.

Nvidia: Yep, issues are unhealthy. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang warns that RTX 3000 playing cards will probably be exhausting to purchase for the remainder of the yr, citing the huge demand, which he compares to different in style product launches, together with Home windows 95. 

RTX 3080 20GB and RTX 3070 16GB tabled. As of October, Nvidia was promoting (in concept) a GeForce RTX 3080 with 10GB of GDDR6X reminiscence, and taking pre-orders for the RTX 3070 with 8GB of GDDR6 reminiscence. It was additionally planning to launch a 20GB RTX 3080 and a 16GB RTX 3070 in December. Dealing with continued provide constraints, Nvidia opts to delay these launches.

RTX 3070 saves the day? Solely in our hearts. Nvidia’s RTX 3070 went on sale in late October, however the card instantly went out of inventory throughout main retailers, leaving customers—together with us—aggravated, however not shocked. Too unhealthy, as a result of in our evaluation, we discovered the 3070 to be a fierce follow-up to the RTX 3080. “Nvidia’s fantastically engineered RTX 3070 Founders Version is a virtually excellent graphics card,” we wrote. It earned a uncommon, five-star score and our Editors’ Selection award as one of the best video-card worth of this, or any, yr.

AMD steps in. In late October, AMD reveals the primary three Radeon RX 6000 Sequence “Massive Navi” playing cards, setting a Nov. 18 launch date, and making AMD look critically well-armed on the high-end gaming graphics entrance for the primary time in a few years. However we had considerations.


November 2020

Xbox Series X and PS5Xbox Sequence X and PS5

Extra targets for scalpers. Forward of the vacation season, we see the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Sequence X, each of which open up one other income stream for scalpers. We strive our hand at inventory-tracking apps to attain the consoles, in addition to hard-to-find GPUs. However scalpers earn an estimated $43 million in revenue by reselling the PS5 and GPUs on eBay in fall 2020, regardless of individuals attempting to troll them with faux listings.

Immediate sellout. An AMD exec recommended its new GPU rollout would go higher than Nvidia’s, however retailers weren’t as optimistic, and are available launch day, AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT had been snapped up instantly, prompting complaints a couple of “paper launch”—which is when the portions are so restricted that nobody can get the merchandise; they’ll solely learn concerning the new {hardware} through press launch.

“Massive Navi” is persistently inconsistent. In our exams, the Radeon RX 6800 posted some spectacular ends in sure benchmarks, however its uneven efficiency in others (notably, older video games) made it a tough Day One graphics-card advice versus the GeForce RTX 3070. The RX 6800 XT, in the meantime, posted record-breaking ends in particular benchmarks, but in addition produced inconsistent body charges on a number of video games, and driver-stability points. Each earned 3.5 out of 5 stars.


December 2020

Cryptocurrencies prices are displayed on a mobile phone screenPhotograph by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto through Getty Pictures

Cryptocurrency growth. Who wants a brand new iPad when you could possibly get a fats crypto pockets for the vacations? The value of Bitcoin jumped from $10,000 to $30,000 in This fall, whereas Ethereum elevated from $350 to $740 throughout the identical time interval. Nice for buyers who received in early, however unhealthy for PC builders now doing battle in opposition to scalpers and would-be crypto millionaires trying to purchase highly effective GPUs to mine their digital currencies.

Inadequate funding in 200mm wafers. Because the yr involves a detailed, ExtremeTech does a deep dive into why so many tech merchandise are briefly provide. One phrase: wafers.


January 2021

Combatting the bots. Retailers get severe about preventing bots. Newegg implements a lottery system to provide clients a greater shot at nabbing must-have merchandise. And Walmart tells PCMag completely that it’s verifying that PS5 orders aren’t automated earlier than delivery them.

Tariffs in impact, bigly. Trump-era tariffs, which impose a 25% responsibility on digital elements imported from China—together with graphics playing cards, motherboards, PC desktop circumstances, and energy provide items that output greater than 500 watts—go into impact. Consequently, PC makers warn of attainable value will increase, although some make plans to maneuver manufacturing out from China to neighboring areas, together with Taiwan and Southeast Asia, to keep away from the tariffs.


February 2021

EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming 12GEVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming 12G

Nvidia tries to rein within the cryptocurrency miners. The GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card arrives with a cryptocurrency mining limiter centered on Ethereum. No Bitcoin? “Ethereum has the very best international mining yield for any GPU-mineable coin in the mean time and thus is probably going the principle demand driver for GPUs in mining,” Nvidia says. The function has a little bit of a bumpy rollout when it’s found that Nvidia’s personal driver may thwart the limiter; Nvidia rapidly removes the offending driver.

US strikes to construct chips. Involved concerning the US changing into too reliant on overseas chip makers, President Biden indicators an govt order supposed to assist the US create a extra resilient and safe provide chain. “Over time now we have underinvested in [semiconductor] manufacturing—hurting our progressive edge—whereas different nations have realized from our instance and elevated their investments within the business,” the White Home says.

RTX 3080 grift rolls on. GPU costs on eBay attain ridiculous new heights. Who precisely is spending $2,400 on a $699 RTX 3080?

Nvidia is doing simply effective. In This fall 2020, Nvidia’s revenues attain a file $5 billion, up 61% from a yr earlier.


March 2021

AMD Radeon RX 6700 XTAMD Radeon RX 6700 XT

AMD to crypto miners: go nuts. AMD says it gained’t prohibit the cryptocurrency-mining capabilities on its PC graphics playing cards. “We won’t be blocking any workload, not simply mining for that matter,” AMD Product Supervisor Nish Neelalojanan tells PC Gamer.

Midrange Massive Navi: a bummer with older video games. AMD’s crypto assertion comes alongside the launch of the Radeon RX 6700 XT. In our evaluation, we discover it’s a strong competitor to Nvidia’s midrange GPUs—if you happen to follow current, optimized titles—and provides it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. It’s nonetheless unattainable to purchase and resell costs rapidly get out of hand.

Lite Hash Price reporting for responsibility. Nvidia expands its Ethereum mining limiter to extra RTX 3000 graphics playing cards—besides its Founders Version GPUs. RTX 3060 Ti, 3070, and 3080 playing cards will ship with the Ethereum mining limiter, labeled on the field as “Lite Hash Price,” or LHR.

Intel’s foundry play. Intel makes a brand new push into the foundry enterprise, which is able to contain manufacturing customized laptop chips for tech firms and Western governments. It suggestions a  $20 billion funding in two new factories at Intel’s present campus in Chandler, Arizona. 


April 2021

Stellar botStellar bot

You wished a GPU in 2021? That’s cute. Nvidia’s CFO predicts that chip demand will outstrip provides for a lot of 2021, whereas Taiwan-based TSMC, which makes chips for AMD and consoles, says the scarcity may final into 2022. Michael Dell is even much less optimistic.

How a lot is that bot within the window? We strive our hand on the world of botting, laying out some money to see if we will land a GPU. It doesn’t go properly, partly as a result of AMD and Amazon catch us within the act.


Could 2021

graphics card rigCredit score: Pixabay

Hope on the horizon? Ethereum says it’s making ready to section out GPU-intensive mining within the coming months. PC customers hope miners will stop the market and resell their graphics playing cards on third-party marketplaces. Others say do not get your hopes up—the mining neighborhood would possibly merely migrate to a different cryptocurrency.

Noticed: Intel’s DG1 desktop graphic card. Greatest Purchase lists a prebuilt desktop operating Intel’s first desktop graphics card in over 20 years. The $749 system comes from LA-based CyberPowerPC, and accommodates an Intel Iris Xe “devoted graphics” card with 4GB of video reminiscence, in keeping with the specs.


June 2021

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders EditionNvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Version

Nvidia’s large efficiency acquire. On the all-virtual Computex, Nvidia pronounces that the RTX 3080 Ti arrives on June 3 for $1,119, whereas the RTX 3070 Ti launches on June 10 for $599.

All of the 4K gaming firepower…for all the cash. In our evaluation, we discover that Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Version is one other gorgeous addition to the RTX 30 Sequence Founders lineage, and a monster for 4K gaming. Simply be ready to pay a disproportionate premium over the RTX 3080 for the additional muscle.

Tenting out at Greatest Purchase. To fend off bots, Nvidia decides to promote the RTX 3080 Ti Founders Version completely at 81 Greatest Purchase shops within the US. We stopped by a retailer in West Los Angeles, the place individuals camped out in a single day to seize one of many coveted GPUs. It was a fruitless endeavor for a lot of, nevertheless, as every Greatest Purchase retailer seemingly solely received 64 GPUs, or about 5,000 for the whole nation.

Bringing 4K gaming nearer to the mainstream. In our evaluation, we discover that Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Founders Version is a sturdy improve to the unique RTX 3070 and a clever choice for 4K play sparsely. Its greater value pits it in opposition to the Radeon RX 6800, which tops it at occasions—however the GeForce card in the end prevails.

12 million. John Peddie Analysis estimates that Nvidia and AMD collectively shipped 12 million desktop playing cards in throughout Q1 2021, about 80% of which had been from Nvidia. The agency, nevertheless, warns GPU makers to not overreact to the scarcity, pointing to 2018, when a crypto bust left Nvidia with tons of unsold stock.

DG2-512. After posting an Xe HPG teaser video emerged within the spring, Intel senior vp Raja Koduri tweets a photograph of the corporate’s “Xe HPG” PC gaming graphics card, codenamed DG2, which is anticipated in late 2021.


Now What?

If you happen to’re bored with doing battle in opposition to the bots and might’t afford to pay inflated costs on eBay or different on-line marketplaces, these easy tips might help pump up your body charges and preserve your outdated card chugging a bit of longer.

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