Graphics card maker Nvidia has become one of the world’s most talked about tech companies after its modest quarterly earnings report triggered a wave of trading activity, bumping the share price by over 25 per cent in a day.
Now Nvidia is pushing a US$1 trillion market capitalisation – hot on the heels of Amazon and Alphabet – as investors look to capitalise on the picks and shovels of the artificial intelligence era: graphics processing units (GPUs).
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang co-founded the company 30 years ago. When he took the stage to deliver a keynote at the Computex conference in Taiwan on Monday afternoon, Huang calmly paced back and forth across the stage delivering a two-hour presentation that outlined Nvidia’s latest products and solidifying the company’s position as the backbone of a new computing paradigm.
“A new computing model is extremely hard to come by,” he said.
“You need developers, but developers have to create applications that end-users buy.
“Without end-users there would be no customers, and no computer companies to build computers. Without computer companies building computers, there would be no installed base. Without installed base there would be no developers.
“And without developers there would be no applications.”
With unprecedented demand for generative AI tools heralded by large language models underpinning ChatGPT, Huang believes we are at a tipping point with what he and Nvidia have long called “accelerated computing” – the use of specific hardware (like GPUs) to parallelise and speed up processes that would be bottlenecked by CPUs.
“Unlike the past when your PC was your computer or your phone was the computer, today the data centre is the computer,” Huang said.
All those data centres are going to need GPUs to meet the new demand of companies, developers, and end-users – and Nvidia is ready to capitalise.
Huang launched new products on stage on Monday, including the DGX GH200 AI supercomputer that has 144 terabytes of shared memory, an exaflop of performance.
According to Nvidia, Google, Microsoft, and Meta will get the first look at the DGX GH200.
Huang also announced the Nvidia Avatar Cloud Engine (ACE), a platform for populating video games with non-playable characters (NPCs) that can interact with players using language models.
A demo showed ACE powering an NPC in a noodle shop. The player walks into the scene, sits down, and starts speaking to the NPC who responds in a natural way.
Rather than limited, scripted dialogue, Nvidia wants to own the hardware and software that populates virtual worlds using AI.
“This is the future of video games,” Huang said.
“Not only will AI contribute to the rendering and the synthesis of the environment, AI will also animate the characters.”