The Inquirer reports major Taiwanese graphics card makers are fed up with ATI's and NVIDIA's forcing of reference graphics card sales. The companies complain the reference designs offer no opportunities for brand recognition and have very poor margins:
How much margin? On average, for every percentage of profit a board vendor gets from selling a reference board, they make 3 per cent from a minor rework, 8 per cent from a major and 20 from a total rework.
The reporter says graphics card vendors are looking forward to Intel's Larrabee, which is expected to give vendors early access to the GPU design so they can release custom designed Larrabee cards at the same time as the chip and its reference design card launch.
But these reworks take time, so there is often a one- or even two-quarter lag between the availability of the reference and the reworked cards. And that erodes profit margins on the reworked cards.
Hence all the board vendors - including the few remaining NV- or ATI-only houses - are eagerly awaiting Intel Larrabee, precisely for the design freedom it is expected to bring.