The current period of stagflation that we live in, combined with rising hardware manufacturing costs, will eventually involve the end of cheap graphics cards. And no, we’re not speculating, but we’re going to carefully explain why this process is going to happen deterministically and no, it’s not something we can avoid.
There is no doubt that the health of the graphics card market is not very healthy for the tightest of pockets. Many find themselves looking to the used graphics card market for high-end graphics cards from previous generations, others have simply decided to make the jump to consoles. Reality? Its low margins do not make it an attractive market.
Why is this the end of cheap graphics cards?
The truth is that there are several reasons for this, but mainly there is the fact that the cost of the pads with the new crafting nodes, as we have already mentioned several times, has increased. So, fabricating a chip under one of the more advanced nodes means double the cost per mm2 so obviously the price will also be doubled, a fateful thing for components already limited by price and with low margins.
Isn’t it possible to reduce the size of the chips? Well, the problem is in the memory interface, its size cannot be scaled and they are on the edge of the chip. That is, you can’t make cheaper processors. Breaking them down into chiplets is also not efficient at smaller sizes and unlike larger GPUs is counterproductive in terms of manufacturing costs.
As if that were not enough, we only have to see the evolution of the lower ranges in terms of raw power, although new technologies have been added, if we talk about power for practical purposes, we will see that the generational leap and taking into account the years which, going from the penultimate to the last generation, are not very rosy either.
iGPUs will be their replacement
The graphics integrated into the processor have the particularity of being on the same chip as the CPU and therefore of sharing the same controller and access to RAM memory. Little by little, especially those of AMD, they have increased the number of cores, so they will soon reach the same number as low-end graphics cards.
The only bottleneck? RAM memory, but they will get good enough for most eSports type games, which is what most people play and for a lot of games. Specifically, the arrival of DDR5 with its higher bandwidth and dual channel support per RAM module should increase performance and avoid many contention issues.
In the end, if something is good enough for most people to do a job of, they don’t end up spending more money improving it, especially when the difference in performance isn’t palpable and is totally marginal. It is for all these reasons that the end of cheap graphics cards is something that will happen naturally and gradually.