It feels like we’ve only just emerged from the debilitating graphics card shortage of the last few years, but a new report suggests we can’t breathe easy just yet. Could a new GPU shortage be on the horizon, or are consumers safe from a return to another nightmare scenario?
According to DigiTimes (via Wccftech), Nvidia is seeing a huge surge in demand for its chips due to the explosion in artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT. Nvidia offers a range of graphics cards that excel at AI tasks, including the A100 and H100, and the company is reportedly struggling to keep up in the wake of such massive demand.
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Nvidia is especially feeling the strain in China, where the company is selling modified versions of the A100 and H100 in order to bypass U.S. sanctions. Because AI-capable chips are currently so hard to come by in the Chinese market, Nvidia’s modified chips — called the A800 and H800 — are absolutely flying off the shelves.
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This has caused Nvidia to increase the price by up to 40% above MSRP, leading to the A800 selling for as much as $36,500. Even the Nvidia V100, a card that launched in 2018, is priced as high as $10,000.
Nvidia is apparently aiming to serve its non-Chinese customers first, which has led to lengthy delays in getting an AI-focused GPU in China. Wait times have reportedly increased to as much as six months from the point of ordering.
Another GPU shortage?
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You might be wondering how that will be a problem for consumers. After all, Nvidia’s AI graphics cards are very different from its gaming GPUs, and it’s not like AI companies are going to be snapping up shedloads of the RTX 4090. Surely that means ChatGPT won’t cause another shortage, right?
Well, AI is booming right now, and it is clearly a priority area for Nvidia. The risk is not that companies will buy up every single gaming GPU, but that Nvidia decides to allocate more resources towards high-end business GPUs — the type that shine when it comes to AI workloads – at the expense of consumer graphics cards.
If that comes to pass, it might become much harder to get your hands on a GPU. That doesn’t appear to be happening just yet, but it may not be something that can be entirely ruled out in the future.
While the cryptocurrency boom that fueled the last GPU shortage appears to be over (at least for now), the AI revolution is rearing its head. In fact, many former crypto miners are apparently pivoting to AI in a bid to remain profitable.
It’s a warning sign of what might lie ahead for anyone desperate to get a new graphics card. While a new GPU shortage is by no means guaranteed, the needs of AI businesses could heap more pressure on the graphics card supply chain.