NVIDIA Takes the Lead Back From AMDhttp://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/11/20/nvidia-takes-the-lead-back-from-amd.aspx Ashraf Eassa
November 20, 2013
When Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) announced its next-generation R9-290X graphics chip, the consensus was that it was neck and neck with NVIDIA's (NASDAQ: NVDA) $650 GeForce GTX 780 and could even hold up well against the green team's $1,000 GeForce GTX Titan. Now, while the extremely high-end portion of the discrete GPU market isn't the big volume/revenue driver, having the highest performing, top-of-the-line "halo" card is important in this market segment from a marketing/sentiment standpoint. While AMD seemed to have the spotlight with its R9-290X, NVIDIA's GTX 780 Ti decisively takes back the crown.
However, when NVIDIA struck back with its Kepler GPUs, built on the same 28-nanometer node, the competitive landscape was turned on its head. NVIDIA, unlike AMD, stripped out much of the non-graphics "compute"-oriented portions from its highest end consumer GPU. This meant that NVIDIA could offer the same or better gaming performance as AMD, but it could do it with a die size of 294mm^2 against AMD's 352mm^2, and at lower power levels.
While NVIDIA quickly gained share on the desktop, the notebook GPU scene was even better for the company. Thanks to NVIDIA's "Optimus" technology, which allowed notebooks to seamlessly switch between Intel integrated graphics and NVIDIA's GPUs to maximize battery life, and thanks to a more efficient GPU architecture, NVIDIA cleanly swept both the Ivy Bridge and Haswell generation of Intel notebooks.
Hawaii, NVIDIA price cuts, and GTX 780 Ti launch
With AMD's Hawaii family of cards (R9-290 and R9-290X), AMD stunned the world by offering excellent products at extremely competitive prices. For $399, AMD was willing to sell customers 6.2 billion transistors, and performance roughly equivalent to NVIDIA's much higher priced GTX 780. It's a gutsy move that could help to win back share, but it's probably still very difficult from an operating profit perspective.
NVIDIA, in a bid to counter this move, lowered prices on its GTX 780 and many of the cards below it. To secure the high-end crown, it launched the GTX 780 Ti, a fully enabled version of the