Reports are circulating that NVIDIA is to kill off the GTX 260, GTX 275, and GTX 285 and exit the high-end and mid-range graphics card market. Is this the end for NVIDIA?
SemiAccurate has the scoop:
Word from sources deep in the bowels of 2701 San Tomas Expressway tell us that the OEMs have been notified that the GTX285 is EOL'd, the GTX260 is EOL in November or December depending on a few extraneous issues, and the GTX275 will be EOL'd within 2 weeks. I would expect this to happen around the time ATI launches their Juniper based boards, so before October 22.
Which leaves the GTX 295, but given that AMD/ATI now has 5xxx series cards that annihilate it, its lifespan can't be that long either (Demerjian has a good analysis on why vendors won't take a chance of stocking NVIDIA cards). And what does NVIDIA have in the pipeline for the near future ... hmmm, not much. A series of technical issues, combined with what appears from the sidelines as a high degree of mismanagement has steered the company into the tar pits.
So where does this leave the market? Well, it makes AMD's investment in ATI now seem like a pretty good buy (especially given the dismal run that AMD has been having lately). If NVIDIA is exiting the high-end and mid-range graphics card market then this leaves a very lucrative field open to AMD.
So is this a good thing or a bad thing. Well, it's good for AMD, and bad for NVIDIA, that's pretty obvious. But what about consumers? Well, I'd hate to see a world without NVIDIA, because in a market with only one big player, things tend to stagnate, and prices tend to be higher than they could be. If you're looking to buy a graphics cards (or buying a new PC) then NVIDIA exiting most of the GPU market is not a good thing at all.
If you've been watching the GPU market closely over the past few years you must have noticed how games are no longer driving the GPU industry. Gone are the days of needing to spend hundreds of dollars on GPU hardware to run a game well. Nowadays you can pick up a sub-$100 GPU that will run games very well indeed. GPU vendors have been spinning their wheels truing to invent markets for high-end GPUs and multi-GPU rings. Truth is that the market for these sort of fringe applications is small. The importance of the GPU is dwindling, and this means that there might not be room for two big players any more.
[UPDATED: This in from an NVIDIA spokesperson:
"We are not phasing out the products you list below [the GTX 260, GTX 275, and GTX 285] by the end of this year. We are in the process of transitioning to Fermi-class GPUs and, in time, phasing out existing products."
I'm getting conflicting reports from supply chain and hardware insiders. Stay tuned ...]