Is Nvidia Challenging Intel? Nvidia's Masterplan Revealed!

We got used to thinking of the name Intel as being synonymous with CPUs. After all, they invented the X86 architecture, and even though they've gotten some very spirited competition recently, they've still been the dominant name in PC CPUs for much of their history. But a new challenger has appeared, and I'm not even talking about AMD, but rather Nvidia who is better known for being a power player in the graphics space. I guess Intel kind of invited this challenge. You've probably heard about their plans to compete in the GPU arena in the near future. But regardless of that encroachment, NVIDIA has been signaling this move for years. 

You see, although many consumers are used to thinking of NVIDIA as a graphics company, the days of them relying on selling graphics cards to gamers and workstation users as their dominant source of income or actually long gone. Nvidia has been investing in enterprise and data center applications for some time now. And while Intel is still the big name and server CPUs, the fact that cloud AI is such a quickly growing field has given Team Green an opportunity to make major inroads. 

How is Nvidia so rich?

Nvidia's bread and butter GPUs are highly parallel chips, making them an excellent choice for the kind of number-crunching needed for machine learning and. Neural networks, in fact, in video revenues from its data center business, reached nearly $2 billion in the third fiscal quarter of 2021, well over double the previous year. 

What's Nvidia Cooking?

But that doesn't mean CPUs don't play a critical part in these workloads. That's where Nvidia's upcoming AI-focused CPU, codenamed "GRACE", comes in. Currently, Nvidia is offering AI-oriented systems that feature their own GPU's but have CPUs from third parties, even AMD, but when GRACE lands, hopefully in 2023 it will be in Nvidia's own words "more tightly coupled to the systems GPU's" making it potentially appealing to companies that use cloud-based machine learning and enabling NVIDIA to possibly ditch CPUs from its competitors, capturing more of the system value for themselves. 

The Master Plan

And we haven't even gone to Nvidia's even bigger power play. Its proposed purchase of ARM, the world's leading designer and licensor of mobile chips. Although the chip inside your phone isn't ARM branded, chipmakers like Qualcomm, Samsung, and even Apple lean on them as a base arm. Chips have been popular for mobile applications in large part because they're so power-efficient, but they're also incredibly versatile, flexible, put their feet behind their head type of thing. 

Apple's new ARM M1 SoC has made waves as a competitor too. Intel and AMD is the best, and even the world's current fastest supercomputer is also based on ARM. Now pump the brakes for a second. It isn't a sure thing that Nvidia's acquisition of ARM will go through ARM has produced designed for many companies that directly compete with each other, giving them a reputation for being a Switzerland like. Neutral business and the proposed merger could undermine this perceived neutrality, especially given both Nvidia's massive amount of market power and reputation for not playing nicely. Add on top of that that the authorities in the UK Arms home base are concerned that the sale will foreign company could cause national security concerns. 

But regardless of the outcome, there NVIDIA has actually built ARM-based CPU's in the past, most famously in the Tegra X1 chip that powers the Nintendo Switch and the company is clearly looking to a future where it can further incorporate arm into its own designs. Recently it came out that in video was working with Media Tek on an ARM CPU for a new NVIDIA gaming laptop. Potentially called the Shield book complete with G Force Graphics gamers on an arm laptop. I'm not ready for this. 

So while we don't know if this foreshadows an NVIDIA desktop CPU to compete with AMD and Intel, it does show that NVIDIA isn't afraid to explore some uncharted territory which could turn them into as big of a household name. As Intel in the future, who knows, maybe this will be so dominant that I will switch it up and start selling green leather jackets and I'll be the first customer. No, I will not. Or are you?

Comments