NVIDIA's Fermi: Architected for Tesla, 3 Billion Transistors in 2010by Anand Lal Shimpi on September 30, 2009 12:00 AM EST
- Posted in
Today's launch is strange. I tried to convince NVIDIA to release more information about Fermi but was met with staunch resistance from the company. NVIDIA claims that by pre-announcing Fermi's performance levels it would seriously hurt its existing business. It's up to you whether or not you want to believe that.
Last quarter the Tesla business unit made $10M. That's not a whole lot of money for a company that, at its peak, grossed $1B in a single quarter. NVIDIA believes that Fermi is when that will all change. To borrow a horrendously overused phrase, Fermi is the inflection point for NVIDIA's Tesla sales.
By adding support for ECC, enabling C++ and easier Visual Studio integration, NVIDIA believes that Fermi will open its Tesla business up to a group of clients that would previously not so much as speak to NVIDIA. ECC is the killer feature there.
While the bulk of NVIDIA's revenue today comes from 3D graphics, NVIDIA believes that Tegra (mobile) and Tesla are the future growth segments for the company. This hints at a very troubling future for GPU makers - are we soon approaching the Atom-ization of graphics cards?
Will 2010 be the beginning of good enough performance in PC games? Display resolutions have pretty much stagnated, PC games are first developed on consoles which have inferior hardware and thus don't have as high the GPU requirements. The fact that NVIDIA is looking to Tegra and Tesla to grow the company is very telling. Then again, perhaps a brand new approach to graphics is what we'll need for the re-invigoration of PC game development. Larrabee.
If the TAM for GPUs in HPC is so big, why did NVIDIA only make $10M last quarter? If you ask NVIDIA it has to do with focus and sales.
According to NVIDIA, over the past couple of years NVIDIA's Tesla sales efforts have been scattered. The focus was on selling to any customers that could potentially see a speedup, trying to gain some traction for the Tesla business.
Jen-Hsun did some yelling and now NVIDIA is a bit more focused in that department. If Tesla revenues increase linearly from this point, that's simply not going to be enough. I asked NVIDIA if exponential growth for Tesla was in the cards and if so, when would it happen. The answer was yes and with Fermi.
We'll see how that plays out, but if Fermi doesn't significantly increase Tesla revenues then we know that NVIDIA is in serious trouble.
The architecture looks good, Fermi just needs to be priced right. Oh and the chip needs to hurry up and come out.