NVIDIA on the defense

As you have all probably seen by now, an internal sales document from NVIDIA was leaked to the public.  This particular document was the propaganda equivalent of 101 reasons to not like ST Micro’s Kyro II part.  From our recent review of the Kyro II you’ll realize that we positioned it not as a cost effective competitor to the GeForce2 MX, but rather an alternative to the more expensive GeForce2 Ultra or GeForce3.  While the Kyro II clearly doesn’t boast the same feature set as the GeForce3, it is a good card to have in the interim between now and the point where DX8 titles start using the potential of the GeForce3 core.

On the sales side of things, NVIDIA views the Kyro II as a direct and obviously more attractive competitor to the GeForce2 MX.  It was because of this threat to their previously untouched value line of cards that NVIDIA made the decision to put together this sales document.  The majority of the document was intent on presenting the Kryo II as an unreliable, borderline dangerous solution for any of NVIDIA’s customers to offer.  Unfortunately for NVIDIA, many of the arguments NVIDIA made in the document were grossly exaggerated.  While the Kyro II does have its issues (we’ll get to those in a second), they are not nearly as devastating as NVIDIA had made them out to be.  However we all know that NVIDIA is one of the most competitive companies in the sector currently, and we shouldn’t have expected any less of them, especially when threatened so quickly by nothing more than a value priced graphics accelerator from the creators of the Power VR. 

The shock over the document in the community was expectedly great, but there is one thing that you have to take into account.  Hundreds of similar documents have come and gone from other manufacturers in the industry, it’s a part of their marketing in such a highly competitive sector.  Imagine the uproar that would be generated had the internal marketing documents of AMD, Intel or even 3dfx been revealed.  While we all accused NVIDIA of taking statements about the Kyro II out of context (which they did), aren’t we partially guilty for taking NVIDIA’s marketing documents out of their context?  We all know better than to believe the information that was presented as fact in the document, after all, it was a sales tool and how many of us really believe the sales pitches we’re given so often in our lives?  Yet we were seemingly shocked to see it.  This isn’t to justify it; it’s simply a different perspective.  Just something to think about, I’m more than certain a lot of companies out there have some internal documents that would look utterly disgusting if they ever surfaced. 

Quite possibly the best to come out of all of this was the fact that ST Micro did not respond to the document; a very mature move on their part.  Unfortunately some harm may have come from the incident (I don’t believe for one minute that any of the recipients of the document blindly accepted it as fact) in that Guillemot, the parent company of Hercules, made some pretty bold statements about how threatened NVIDIA should feel by the Kyro II:

"They are right to be scared, 3D Prophet 4500 will really be a great product.” - Claude Guillemot, President, Hercules Technologies.

While we should all commend Mr. Guillemot for his statement, don’t expect Guillemot to exactly be on NVIDIA’s good side after this.  NVIDIA is much like Intel was in 1998, with relatively low competition on a performance basis, and the ability to command quite a bit of power from those that depend on their chips.  Let’s hope that Guillemot hasn’t burned any major bridges, but with them being the only ones pushing Kyro II so much now it’s difficult to see how they haven’t caused a little sizzle.

Index NVIDIA on the offense
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