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AMD ‘ramping up production’ to address graphics card shortages

Here’s hoping we can actually buy Radeon GPUs soon

AMD Radeon Pro Duo photo 2048
An AMD Radeon Pro Duo graphics card — a nongaming GPU — in a high-powered PC.
AMD
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

AMD is well aware that its Radeon graphics cards are in short supply, and the company said today that it is working on that problem by manufacturing more units when possible.

Both AMD and its chief competitor, Nvidia, have dealt with incredibly high demand for GPUs over the past year — demand driven by customers looking to use graphics cards to mine for cryptocurrency such as Ethereum. AMD launched its new RX Vega series of GPUs last August, and the two graphics cards in that line (Vega 56 and Vega 64) have essentially been sold out since then. Even for custom models that use those GPUs, TechSpot reported today, “Getting your hands on any one of them is next to impossible.”

AMD reported strong results for the fourth quarter of its 2017 fiscal year today, with revenue of $1.48 billion — a year-over-year increase of 34 percent. That included $958 million contributed by AMD’s Computing and Graphics division, a figure that was 60 percent higher than the same quarter a year ago. The increase was “primarily driven by strong sales of Radeon graphics and Ryzen desktop processors,” the company said in its earnings release.

Speaking during an investor call to discuss the earnings report this afternoon, AMD CEO and president Dr. Lisa Su said the cryptocurrency mining market is “consuming a lot of GPUs.” She added, “It’s a good part of our business.”

Dr. Su also said that much of the sales growth that AMD saw in its graphics cards came “outside the blockchain market,” and acknowledged that the high demand from that segment has caused a severe shortfall elsewhere.

“The graphics channel is very low, and we’re certainly working to replenish that channel environment,” said Dr. Su. Because the availability of graphics cards is “lower than we would like it to be,” she added, “we are ramping up production.” However, Dr. Su noted that AMD faces some supply issues of its own: Although manufacturing is not constrained by the availability of silicon, the company is contending with shortages in both GDDR5 and HBM2 memory. (The former RAM type is used in the RX 400 and RX 500 series cards, while the latter is used in the RX Vega line.)

“We continue to work through that with our memory partners,” said Dr. Su.

If AMD can supply the market with more GPUs this year, it would be a vital part of one way to give gamers a better chance at acquiring the company’s graphics cards. AMD’s solution doesn’t touch on something Nvidia is reportedly doing: advising retailers to implement measures to help gamers get their hands on graphics cards. Retailers are another key part of the equation, and they’re already taking steps to prevent cryptocurrency miners from buying up all the stock as soon as it’s available.

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