NVIDIA Analyst Day: Jen-sun Goes to the Mat With Intelby Derek Wilson on April 11, 2008 12:00 AM EST
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Hot on the heels of the launch of their 9800 series products, NVIDIA is holding a Financial Analyst Day. These are generally not filled with the normal technical glitz and glitter an Editors Day has, but the announcements and material covered are no less important to NVIDIA as a company. NVIDIA has an unusually large institutional ownership rate at 84% (versus 79% and 66% for AMD and Intel respectively) so the company holds these Analyst Days in part to keep its institutional investors happy and well informed about the company’s progress.
As far as we members of the press are concerned however, Analyst Days are a valuable chance to learn about the GPU market, and anything that could impact the bottom line can help us understand NVIDIA's direction, motivation, and even the reasoning behind some of the engineering decisions they make. Today saw a lot of posturing for battles to come, and we were not disappointed.
Waking up the Beast
Most of the morning was dedicated to NVIDIA taking some time to do a little PR damage control. They've stepped out to defend themselves against the doom and gloom statements of other players in the industry. With Intel posturing for a move into the graphics market and proclaiming the downfall of rasterization and discrete graphics at the same time, NVIDIA certainly has reason to address the matter.
And we aren't talking about some standard press release boiler plate filled with fluffy marketing speak. This time, Jen-sun Huang, the man himself, stepped out front and addressed some of the concerns others in the industry have put forth. And he was out for blood. We don't get the chance to hear from Jen-sun too often, so when he speaks, we are more than happy to listen.
One of the first things that Jen-sun addressed (though he didn't spend much time on it) is the assessment by Intel's Pat Gelsinger that rasterization is not scalable and won't suit future demands. He largely just threw this statement out as "wrong and pointless to argue about," but the aggregate of the arguments made over the day all sort of relate back to this. The bottom line seems more like Intel's current approach to graphics can't scale fast enough to meet the demands of games in the future, but that speaks nothing about NVIDIA and AMD's solution which are at least one if not two orders of magnitude faster than Intel graphics right now. In fact, at one point Jen-sun said: "if the work that you do is not good enough … Moore's law is your enemy."
This seems as good a time as any to address the tone of the morning. Jen-sun was very aggressive in his rebuke of the statements made against his company. Many times he talked about how inappropriate it is for larger companies to pick on smaller ones through the use of deceptive marketing tactics (ed: Intel is 11.5 times as large as NVIDIA by market cap). To such attacks, he says "It's just not right!" and "we've been taking it, every single fricking day… enough is enough!" NVIDIA, Jen-sun says, must rely on the truth to carry its message in the absence of massive volumes of marketing dollars.
Certainly, things can be true even if they paint a picture slightly different than reality, but for the most part what Jen-sun said made a lot of sense. Of course, it mostly addresses reality as it is today and doesn't speculate about what may be when Larabee hits the scene or if Intel decides to really go after the discrete graphics market. And rightly enough, Jen-sun points out that many of Intel's comments serve not only to spread doubt about the viability of NVIDIA, but will have the effect of awakening the hearts and minds of one of the most tenaciously competitive companies in computing. Let's see how that works out for them.