Which PC component has shipped 1.2bn units since the ’80s? Hint: it ain’t PhysX

Your graphics card is more than just an appliance for PC gamers. It’s proven itself to be a computational whizz in a wide range of tasks, from running machine intelligence inference to mining cryptocurrency. We find new uses for these slabs of silicon every day – and that’s perhaps why 1,299,000,000 graphics cards have been shipped since 1981.

According to a report from Jon Peddie Research, graphics add-in board shipments total nearly 1.3bn since 1981, peaking in 1999. Yes, 1999 – the year of the GeForce 256. In 2018, the GPU market was worth $15bn, and in Q3 2019 it is Nvidia that rules the roost with 72.92% of the market.

Today there are only two large-scale GPU manufacturers: AMD (Radeon) and Nvidia. It wasn’t always a two-horse race, but various acquisitions, buyouts, and busts – such as AMD purchasing ATI and Nvidia buying up 3dfx back in the day – led to the tussle for world GPU domination before you today solely between red and green. But that’s potentially all about to change.

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