It all could have been so beautiful. Temperatures go up and GPU prices go down, new infections go down and GPU unit sales go up. That this is unfortunately not the case is shown by the latest developments with the board partners, where renewed delivery bottlenecks even lead to distribution struggles and conflicts within the company networks. Since this is rather little known outside the industry, I want to write about this topic today.
But first, let’s start with the vexed availability of the current GPUs. Besides the GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, which was still quite available at least during the launch period, June in particular proved to be a month of profound shortages for board partners. In fact, aside from the fairly readily available GeForce RTX 2060, NVIDIA’s allocations to board partners looked extremely poor, according to industry insiders. NVIDIA itself has promised the partners a much better availability starting in July, but it doesn’t seem to be that easy.
Even if in the meantime the first GPUs have been delivered again in homeopathic doses, one has to consider the supply chain to the manufacturers and the required times (1 to 2 weeks from packager). The first third of July has already passed and nothing has really changed for many of the companies concerned. This is said to be primarily due to Samsung simply not being able to deliver the promised numbers. This in turn leads to an interesting cannibalism within the respective company networks, because many companies belong together with very different shareholdings (also among themselves).
Distribution battles within a company? Normally, not much gets out, but it does. Let’s take a structure like PC Partner. Prestigious here is especially Zotac. Companies like Manli or Inno3D are rather small and usually have less image. Now if you concentrate the few chips on one paver, it makes perfect sense. On the one hand, the production lines in at least one company are then better utilized, and on the other hand, higher margins can be achieved here. You can also see from the list below that Manli could currently offer mostly old cards, i.e. with Pascal and Turing chips. At Inno3D, compared to Zotac, they already ran into nothing in terms of units.
This applies to the same extent e.g. also to Galax (or here in Germany known as KFA2), which were supposedly just drained, so that at least Palit (together with the in-house brand Gainward) can sell more cards. Here, too, tangible economic reasons play a role and it is not really surprising if the parent company then withdraws resources in times of great shortage. Citizens of the GDR know this from the times of the Soviet Union’s tutelage, when the vassal states of the so-called Eastern Bloc were plundered by big brother until the doctor came.
Of course, at first one encounters an icy wall of silence, but in the meantime the displeasure of some companies is so great that one or two things do leak out. That the situation is anything but rosy is not only shown by the enormously increased prices of the hardware brokers in the last days, but also by the availability or the numbers of cards that are still expected in the next days. Except for a whole 10 (!) cards from MSI, no manufacturer can deliver anything anymore.
This situation is rather rare in this form and the daily and also daily changing prices of the brokers (see table at the end of the page) are a very good indicator for the next, short-term trends. And so we’re already seeing another (short-term) increase in prices here. If Samsung manages to increase shipments again in the next 1-2 weeks, then perhaps we can also hope that the current increases on the usual distribution channels don’t filter through to the end customer, but that’s purely speculative.
What is interesting, by the way, is also the fall in prices for the transport of not so bulky goods. The air freight costs per kilo from Hong Kong have meanwhile fallen back from their high of up to 70 HKD (Hong Kong dollar, approx. 0.11 EUR) to approx. 35 HKD, i.e. they are only 15 HKD above the former prices before the crisis. Freight by rail is still a matter of luck, and shipping containers are virtually ruled out at present for the reasons we know. There is now a backlog of several weeks.
As a conclusion, NVIDIA must succeed in significantly increasing the delivery quantities within the next 1-2 weeks, which in turn depends on Samsung alone, in order not to risk a renewed price increase.