Intel started the trend of improving integrated graphics with their second generation LGA1155 socket Core i3, i5 & i7 line of processors. Depending on the model, these processors sport integrated HD2000 or HD3000 graphics right on the processor die, which nowadays give acceptable performance for low-end gaming and can play Full HD 1080p video perfectly. This trend is increasing with the upcoming Ivy Bridge processors, which will be able to support a massive 4096 x 4096 pixel display, as we reported here. AMD now also have equivalent products with their Llano-based A-series processors. So, where does this leave discrete graphics cards? Well, the low end market is certainly seeing reduced sales, as there really isn't enough of a performance difference nowadays to always warrant an upgrade from an IGP. As integrated graphics improve further, one can see how this will hurt sales of higher end graphics cards too. The problem is that the bulk of the profit comes not from the top-end powerhouse graphics cards, but from the low to mid-end cards which allow these companies to remain in business, so cannibalizing sales of these products to integrated graphics could make high-end graphics cards a much more niche product and crucially, much more expensive with to boot. Hence, it's not surprising to see that Digitimes are reporting that while NVIDIA are about to produce the next generation Kepler-based GPU's on TSMC's 28nm process and AMD have already started production of their Southern Islands-based GPU's, the graphics card manufacturers are cautious about jumping in head first with cards based on these new products. Taiwan-based card makers are watching the market before making decisions, according to Digitimes' industry sources: The poor 28nm yield rate isn't helping either: All this of course, is bad news for PC enthusiasts, who are always looking to upgrade their PCs with the latest technology so that they can run power-intensive tasks on them, such as 3D gaming and distributed projects such as Folding@Home. On the plus side, a top-end card like a GTX 580 or HD 6970 will not be integrated into an IGP any time soon, because of the sheer power, heat and die size requirements, so there is still hope that affordable high-end cards will remain available. What's interesting, is that as AMD are now a combined CPU & GPU company, they know full well that their IGP solutions eat into sales of their own discreet low to mid-end graphics cards. It will be worth watching AMD's strategy for dealing with this problem, closely.