Nvidia soars on the back of AI

Nvidia’s sales have doubled in the last year. How long can it last?

01 July 2024

Jensen Huang, Nvidia

The last two years have been particularly fruitful ones for Nvidia, which saw its market value rise a shade above $3 trillion in early June, only the third company to date to reach the stratosphere. It has taken a while to get there. Jensen Huang and two-co founders started the business in April 1993 with 3D graphics cards for gaming and multimedia, and then brought a fully integrated GPU to market in 1999. In 2007, it launched the CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) software platform, which allows access to the GPU’s instruction set and allows programmers to improve the performance of their applications. It was also there at the birth of deep learning in 2012, and two of its GeForce GTX 580 chips powered the pioneering convolutional neural network called AlexNet. It has been a 30-year sprint, with Huang leaning into all parts of the business with what is said to be a relentless attention to detail. And, as vendors are fond of saying, it’s not done yet. Returning to his home country Taiwan for the Computex conference in early June, he had a slew of announcements, including an update to the new Blackwell GPU, a new switch, and fresh datacentre GPU architecture. Huang also seems more approachable than other technology leaders, and was filmed amid a throng of admirers at the Computex event. He seems to be enjoying the attention.

While there have been other technology companies with huge valuations, such as BlackBerry, the comparison is unhelpful in that it just had a phone and an operating system and not GPUs that underpin the soaring AI and high-performance computing markets. Still, that doesn’t mean the road ahead will be without its obstacles. The US Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are making noises about an antitrust probe into how the company, along with OpenAI and Microsoft, have come to dominate the AI industry. There’s also a chance that the AI bubble may lose a little air.

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