In a very interesting interview with CNet, NVIDIA’s top-brass was once again talking about Intel, Larrabee and how NVIDIA wants to see a more open, non-monopolistic PC environment.  There are some very interesting points in the discussion that touch on many aspects of the NVIDIA and Intel relationship.

“Intel is a big, powerful company,” I noted to Huang. “And there aren’t many people like you in the industry, who are so blunt about Intel.”

His reaction: “Because they are Intel. Because they are a monopoly. Because they are a market-dominant player. They ought to be held to a higher standard. They shouldn’t be able to say that other peoples’ businesses are going to die.”

Huang, here, is referring to a statement by an Intel executive who recently said current graphics technology (sometimes referred to generally as rasterization) will be replaced by another kind of graphics technology (sometimes referred to as ray tracing), on which Intel is working.

This is a very interesting statement that alludes the power that the entire industry, includng AMD, sees Intel holding over their heads.

“Just to play devil’s advocate,” I said, “Intel sees the success of the GPU. So it has to crank up its skunk works and develop a fast GPU too (Larrabee). Then Intel, being Intel, has to fill its factories and sell these things. Again, I’m playing devil’s advocate here.”

Huang’s immediate reaction: “You and I have a deal. If you’re going to write controversial stuff about what I say, can you write what you just said? Here’s what I believe: I believe that the entire world believes that what Intel does is build a factory, stuff that people don’t want to buy, and then shoves it down its customer’s throats. Just like you said.”

Again NVIDIA’s CEO seems to be putting a legal and moral implication into what Intel is doing implying that Intel is simply ‘innovating to sell’ rather than creating products that address problems in the most efficient manner. 

But Intel, and its capacity to integrate more and more of the PC’s function into its chipsets, is never far from his mind. Huang gave a number of examples of companies–as smaller and smaller chip geometries have allowed more and more transistors to be packed into a single chip–that disappeared because they were integrated out of existence. (Think sound chip and multimedia chip companies as just a few examples.)

“Make me…list one single example where Moore’s Law is not your enemy today,” he said. “At this very moment, the only one we know of is the GPU.”

Every year, Huang said, “we’re making chips that are twice as big as the (year) before that. And every single year, we deliver an experience that is twice as good as the year before. And every single year, people say, ‘It’s not good enough. I want more. I want more.'”

Throughout it all, Moore’s Law is still Huang’s friend, he said.

“Notice in the case of CPUs, people are saying, ‘I don’t need that many gigahertz,’ or ‘I don’t need that many cores,'” Huang noted. “(CPU makers) are going down that path. And that’s why it’s possible now to build an Atom CPU. At that point, the technology becomes good enough.”

I actually think this statement from him might be more interesting after having read the interview a few times – could it be that parallel, visual-type data computing processors will be fast enough to run the “in-lin” code that x86 cores are so used to doing to catch up to parts like the Atom from Intel or Isaiah from NVIDIA?  If so, would that allow the GPU (or what we now call the GPU) to overtake more of the processing market than Intel would like and thus Intel’s eventual goal is to create such a product before NVIDIA can?  We are definitely talking a multi-year development here but the thought is not completely absurd even today.

One more comment:

“Intel cannot share the world with someone else. They want the world to have one processor. They don’t want the world to have two processors, even if it’s good for them. (The Nvidia chip) just happens to be so famous, and just happens to be so popular, and happens to be so delightful that it just really makes them upset. That’s an anti-innovation feeling. That’s a monopolistic feeling, right? You can’t share the world with somebody else.”

To me this just drips in irony – I have said for years (and to NVIDIA many times) that I felt NVIDIA didn’t want share multi-GPU technology and open it up to other chipset vendors.  NVIDIA’s inability to “share” the world of SLI, AMD, VIA (when they were around) and Intel could be its undoing…