The decades-old upstart Nvidia is no surprise startup.
Founded in 1993, Nvidia develops chips used in the fastest growing technology business sectors: gaming, video editing, self-driving cars, and now artificial intelligence. Its technology has also been involved in the crypto boom.
“We had the idea that computer graphics would be the driving force behind technology and [its] video games will be the fuel,” co-founder and CEO Jensen Huang said in 2018.
Based in California, Nvidia doesn’t actually manufacture its own chips, but rather designs them and then outsources production to other companies, most notably the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.
His chips, known as graphics processing units (GPUs), were used to create effects in Avatar and other blockbusters. But Nvidia became a giant when its products proved suitable for other industries that require huge computing power.
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He also creates the systems and software that runs his products, modeling his business plan on Apple, which uses must-have hardware to lure consumers to other services.The right product at the right time
GPUs were Nvidia’s bread and butter, and in its early decades, the company focused on delivering the best possible graphics for video games and movies.
There is only one final judge, and “that’s the human eye,” Chris Malachowski, another Nvidia co-founder, said in 2012.
But the chip was soon found to be effective for other purposes as well, including cryptocurrency mining, processing vast amounts of data, and machine learning, the computationally heavy process that underlies AI revolution
As use cases have expanded and ChatGPT has taken the world by storm, the company has only gotten stronger and now holds 82% of the standalone GPU market.
In 2022, Nvidia released the H100, one of the most powerful processors it has ever made, costing around $40,000 each, which it says was the first chip designed specifically for generative AI.
The H100, which contains 80 billion transistors, is seeing explosive demand from cloud giants supporting the AI race such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google, as well as any other company that can afford to join the fray.
Elon Musk said last week that GPUs are “significantly harder to get than drugs” at the moment, and that addiction is causing Nvidia to rain.
Nvidia announced this month that its sales for the three months ending July will be an incredible $11 billion.
What Steve Jobs did for a turtle neck, Nvidia’s tenacious Huang is trying to do for a leather jacket.
At the product launch, the 60-year-old Taiwanese-American immigrant wears a motorcycle leather jacket and has been known to make video jokes showing off the coat to shut up new releases.
Born in Taiwan, his parents sent him to a strict boarding school in Kentucky in the 1970s, where Huang says he and his brothers learned how to survive the harsh environment.
Huang later received an engineering degree in Oregon State University and Stanford University.
Last week, Huang returned as a hero to Taiwan, where he says the world is at the “tipping point of the new computer age.”
For a while, Nvidia was the unsung hero of the tech industry and even became a meme pumped up by day traders on social media when it was still being overlooked by the Wall Street bigwigs.