NVIDIA and AMD on GPU shortages: No improvement until May
The latest GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD have been nigh impossible to purchase from launch day itself. The precious few cards available were quickly lapped up by scalpers using bots and re-listed on eBay for a staggering premium. The GPU supply hasn't improved despite NVIDIA's and AMD's assurances. The big two manufacturers finally have some news for us: The situation won't improve until May.
Speaking at the CES Tech Investor Forum, NVIDIA's CFO Colette Kress revealed that the company's GPU supply will continue to remain "lean" throughout the first quarter of this year. To make matters worse, NVIDIA's fiscal quarter lasts until April 28. Don't expect to snag the latest Ampere GPUs at reasonable prices anytime until May. That's nearly half of this year.
Things aren't looking great at the AMD corner either. Its earlier promise of making AIB partner cards available at Maximum Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) "within eight weeks" failed miserably. AMD won't be phasing out own RX-6000-series reference designs in favor of AIB partner cards—a clear sign that these prices are untenable. This has prompted speculations of AMD having resorted to a paper launch.
The similar saga of untenable MSRP and paper launch theory extends to NVIDIA as well. The GPU maker's own AIB partner anonymously told Gamers Nexus that they'd go bankrupt honoring the unattainable MSRP set for Ampere GPUs. This is plausible given the low yields of newer fabrication process nodes required by these GPUs. This makes them prohibitively expensive and MSRP targets impossible to achieve.
It's worth noting that neither Apple's A14 Bionic (5nm process node) nor Snapdragon 865 (7nm process node) have faced supply issues, despite having a smaller and more complicated process nodes compared to both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs. The fabrication processes evidently need time to mature.
It takes time for chip yields to improve and bring costs down. Until then, chip makers either have to bleed money or raise MSRP. This is difficult for publicly-listed companies such as AMD and NVIDIA. Bleeding money to accommodate untenable MSRPs is just as unacceptable for GPU makers as admitting production issues which risks a crash in stock value. This might explain GPU shortages.