Visual Computing’s Ascent Gives NVIDIA Room to Expand Its Business Model

by David Shannon

The IT world is being upended.

PC sales are declining with the rise of smartphones and tablets. High-definition screens are proliferating, showing up on most every machine. Android is increasingly pervasive. Yesterday’s PC industry, which produced several hundred million units a year, will soon become a computing-devices industry that produces many billions of units a year.  And visual computing is at the epicenter of it all.

The consequences of these changes are apparent everywhere. New industry leaders are emerging. Companies differentiate not only on products but on business models. Some create systems from industry-standard chips.  Others are vertically integrated and build their own chips, systems, software and even services. Some do both.

For chip-makers like NVIDIA that invent fundamental advances, this disruption provides an opening to expand our business model. Not so long ago, we only made and sold GPU chips, albeit the world’s fastest ones. Five years ago, we introduced Tegra, a system on a chip. More recently, GRID – a complete system that streams cloud games and other graphics-rich content – as well as the SHIELD gaming portable have been unveiled.

But it’s not practical to build silicon or systems to address every part of the expanding market. Adopting a new business approach will allow us to address the universe of devices.

So, our next step is to license our GPU cores and visual computing patent portfolio to device manufacturers to serve the needs of a large piece of the market.

The reality is that we’ve done this in the past. We licensed an earlier GPU core to Sony for the Playstation 3. And we receive more than $250 million a year from Intel as a license fee for our visual computing patents.

Now, the explosion of Android devices presents an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate this effort.

A die shot of one of our Kepler-based GPUs.

NVIDIA’s Kepler architecture is the world’s most advanced, most efficient GPU.

We’ll start by licensing the GPU core based on the NVIDIA Kepler architecture, the world’s most advanced, most efficient GPU. Its DX11, OpenGL 4.3, and GPGPU capabilities, along with vastly superior performance and efficiency, create a new class of licensable GPU cores. Through our efforts designing Tegra into mobile devices, we’ve gained valuable experience designing for the smallest power envelopes.  As a result, Kepler can operate in a half-watt power envelope, making it scalable from smartphones to supercomputers.

Kepler is the basis for currently shipping GeForce, Quadro and Tesla GPUs, as well as our next-generation Tegra mobile processor codenamed Logan. Licensees will receive all necessary designs, collateral and support to integrate NVIDIA’s powerful graphics cores into their devices.

We’ll also offer licensing rights to our visual computing portfolio. This will enable licensees to develop their own GPU functionality while enjoying design freedom under the best visual computing patent portfolio in the world.

This opportunity simply didn’t exist several years ago because there was really just one computing device – the PC. But the swirling universe of new computing devices provides new opportunities to license our GPU core or visual computing portfolio.

As the world leader in visual computing technology, we believe we’re uniquely positioned to benefit. We invest more in R&D in this area than any other company in the world – over $1 billion annually and more than $6 billion since our founding. The vast majority of our 8,500 employees are engaged in these efforts, and we have more than 5,500 patents issued and pending – the industry’s best visual computing patent portfolio.

But more importantly, more devices will have the potential to take advantage of our investments.  That means more of the planet’s users will be able to enjoy our advanced graphics technologies.   And that’s what really gets us excited here at NVIDIA.

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  • Chris Chavez

    NICE. The more competition, the better. Can’t let Imagination Technologies have all the fun 😉

  • Leon Redd

    To me, this is the act of a desperate company as they can see the writing on the wall with the HSA foundation and what it can contribute to the industry!!

    Even though I hate a monopoly, even duopoly, I hope AMD and Intel now screw them!!!

    HSA was finally a way for all to move forward for the benefit of us all, not just one company!!

  • sam

    Will you be licensing this for desktops too so that intel can add it to it’s core i3/i5/i7 desktop gpu’s? If so that could kill off AMD.

  • Jules Mak

    There are lots of things to consider beyond the licensing of GPU parts to other chip vendors.

    Kelper was made on TSMC’s 28nm HP (High Performance node), if a
    interested 3rd party try to move those to a 28nm HPM (High Performance
    Mobile) or future 20nm, 16nm FinFET, they will find out that those parts
    will not yield. Or not yield as good as they like to have.

    Moving a gpu from one process to another require quite a bit of work. Not to mention also trying to combining a ARM core to it.

    That’s why AMD use semi custom design, where they know which process
    to use and how it will affect yields. This will greatly mitigate the
    risk of low yields for clients such as Sony, MS. It’s a bit easier to
    have their client order what they want, and then make those parts for

    Similar to ordering sushi from a professional Sushi Shop(AMD), and making your own sushi(NVDA).

  • Jules Mak

    Sam, INTC is using a process very different from TSMC, it will take vast amount of time depending on the complexity of gpu to combine some or all of it onto Intel CPU’s. 

    And by the time they actually manage to fusion the two, new process node would have made those parts kind of irrelevant. 

  • Julien Julius

    Any chance of licensing 3dfx tech ?
    Would be a dream for 3dfx fans to have the possibility to build a native PCIE 3dfx card, or to have on a single card the power of a Voodoo5 6000 !

  • BAQ

    Dude, AMD cards suck unless you pay so much that you sell your internal organs to cover the cost. And why would Intel screw anyone? They’ll be profiting from anything as long as they shove their awful graphics cards. Nvidia really doesn’t do anything wrong to the people. Their GPUs are pretty damn good.

  • lakilook

    my vaio update find a new update for nvidia  guard servis,but it’can’t install it.why?    please help…am try,many times but nothing.i know how must to do it but some problem it…..

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