How Nvidia Became a Chip Industry Giant

It’s safe to say that Nvidia (NVDA) has become a giant in the chip industry. A leader in the creation of graphics chips and cards for games, in addition to content creation, the company has evolved into one of the leading artificial intelligence processing companies on Earth.

Founded in 1993 by Jensen Huang (the company’s current CEO), Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem, the engineering trio never expected that the silicon they were building would eventually be chosen to power supercomputers in facilities, including the Los Alamos National Department of Energy. Laboratory.

The company, which initially focused on gaming and entertainment products, released its first chip, the NV1, in 1995. Although not a huge success, it put Nvidia on the game maker’s map. Sega. Sega originally considered using Nvidia’s NV2 chip in its Dreamcast console, but later abandoned the effort.

In 1996, Nvidia released its first Microsoft (MSFT) DirectX drivers, specialized software used to render 3D graphics on Windows PCs. The following year, the company released its first successful product, the NV3, also known as the Riva 128. Nvidia went on to sell 1 million units in the card’s first four months of availability, helping generate revenue for research and development. future products.

In January 1999, Nvidia hit the public markets at $12 per share, and by 2000 Nvidia’s market position was strong enough to swallow old rival 3DFX. That same year, Microsoft chose the chip giant to power the graphics for its first Xbox console.

Eventually, Nvidia’s graphics capabilities went beyond gaming. In 2003, the company not only worked with Blizzard on the launch of its hugely popular “World of Warcraft,” but it also partnered with NASA to create a photorealistic simulation of Mars.

Nvidia continued its work with console makers in 2005 when Sony chose the company to power the graphics for its PlayStation 3. Five years later, Nvidia became Audi’s graphics chip supplier, powering the interfaces for the various automaker vehicles. In 2015, the company released its Nvidia Drive chip to power driver assistance systems.

In 2016, Nvidia bet everything on AI with its DGX-1 server for artificial intelligence applications. Since then, the company has continued to pour money into its AI capabilities. The company’s stock price matched this March, rising from $7.40 per share in 2016 to $70.25 at the end of 2018, thanks to its data center offerings and card execution. charts for crypto mining.

Two years later, Nvidia launched its RTX platform, which brought real-time ray tracing technologies to games and digital graphics spaces. The technology makes lighting in graphics applications appear as realistic as real life, dramatically enhancing immersion.

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang makes a point during his keynote address at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 7, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Today, Nvidia continues to power graphics in PCs and game consoles around the world. But it went way beyond that. In March 2022, the company launched its first discrete processor for data centers and announced that it was using its version of the metaverse, called the Omniverse, to better understand climate change.

While the global chip shortage has made it difficult for consumers to get their hands on new Nvidia cards, they are still some of the most sought after on the market.

However, Nvidia is not alone in the graphics chip market. AMD (AMD) has its own line of powerful Radeon chips, and Intel (INTC) is pushing ahead with its own discrete graphics chips for laptops and desktops, putting further pressure on Nvidia to continue. maintain its leadership position in graphics technology.

Yet for a company that has grown from three engineers working on a graphics card to thousands of employees working on chips that will power the AI ​​supercomputers of the future, Nvidia remains at the top of its game.

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Do you have any advice? Email Daniel Howley at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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