Interesting Information From NVIDIA's 2008 Stockholders Letterby Ryan Smith on May 30, 2008 12:00 AM EST
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- Ryan's Ramblings
Earlier today we got our hands on NVIDIA's 2008 stockholders letter, and have been thumbing over it. For those of you that aren't familiar with annual stockholder letters, every year ahead of their annual stockholders meeting and voting, NVIDIA sends out a package containing a voting sheet along with a fairly thick book which in turn contains their proxy statement for issues to be voted upon, their 10-K statement detailing the previous year's financials, and a letter to the stockholders written in plain English that summarizes what the company has been doing in the past year and will be doing in the next. All of these elements are interesting for different reasons, but for now we're going to focus on the letter to the stockholders, as that's where the buried treasure is today.
While the rest of the document is printed on standard newsprint, the letter itself is printed on heavy glossy paper so that NVIDIA can use pictures (and lots of them at that). Not very far in to the letter, we came upon a most interesting picture.
To date, NVIDIA's biggest GPU is G92, with around 750 million transistors. The 1.2 billion figure listed here would be wrong for a current GPU, but not for a next-generation GPU. Now NVIDIA's next-generation GPU is just about the worst kept secret in the industry, and to that extent there's been plenty of speculation on the features and size of such a GPU. 1.2 billion transistors is consistent (if not a tad higher) than what rumors have been floating about so the size doesn't come as much of a surprise, but we are surprised that NVIDIA would publish such a fact for a product that doesn't exist yet. None the less, of all the rumors we can at least lay those about the transistor count to rest: NVIDIA's next generation high-end GPU will have around 1.2 billion transistors, and that's right from the horse's mouth.
And just to put things in comparison, even Intel only has a single mainstream chip so far that is that big - the P4 based Tulsa Xeon with 16MB of on-die L3 cache, which came out to 1.3 billion. Beyond that, we'd have to start looking at exotic chips for supercomputers such as the latest Itanium (1.7 billion) to find something similarly large or larger.
We're still not sure what this die shot is of however. We don't have a die shot of the G80 or G92, which makes it hard to determine what this is a shot of. NVIDIA and AMD are both very protective of their parts in this regard, so it seems unlikely that the die shot matches the caption. If we had to take a bet, we'd guess that this is a G80 die shot although we certainly wouldn't complain if it was a shot of NVIDIA's next generation GPU.
Moving on, we have NVIDIA's financials for the quarter. NVIDIA's FY 2008 (February 2007 through February 2008) was positively monstrous, revenue was up nearly 33% and earnings were up 72%. If you're wondering why Jen-sun is driving the company so hard in a fight against Intel, there's a good part of the reason; Intel may be many times larger than NVIDIA, but NVIDIA has ample ammunition to stage a fight with.
Speaking of financials, we'll also touch quickly on their revenue breakdown for the year. Consumer GPU: 61%, Professional GPU: 14%, Chipset: 17%, Mobile/Console: 6%. Most of their growth for the year was in consumer GPUs followed by professional GPUs, while chipset and mobile/console sales were nearly flat by comparison.
Finally, there are legal matters. Back in November of 2006, the United States Department of Justice began an investigation in to illegal price fixing and other anti-competitive actions between AMD and NVIDIA. So far that investigation has not resulted in any charges, and it's not immediately looking like it ever will. However civil suits are another matter, since the start of the DOJ investigation some 55 civil suits have been filed against NVIDIA by consumers, alleging the same things as the DOJ investigation.
These have since been consolidated in to two suits, one for direct buyers of GPU products, and another for indirect purchases (i.e. those who purchased pre-built computers with NVIDIA GPUs). While we have known that some civil suits had been filed against NVIDIA, we hadn't previously seen a count; 55 was more than we were expecting however. It does not appear that these will end up being class action suits, the date for filing such a motion has passed and we are not aware of any such motion being filed or approved.
Discovery is ongoing, the trial will start on January 12th of 2009.
Update: If you're interested in seeing the investor materials, NVIDIA has the entire document posted to their site as a PDF. You can find it here.