The Verbal ConfirmationWhile there has been a lot of talk around the PCPer offices about how NVIDIA seems to be abandoning the AMD market, it was not until recently that we heard any kind of confirmation about this. Some weeks ago Forbes interviewed Jen-Hsun Huang, and he had this very interesting tidbit to talk about when asked about disruptive events which affects NVIDIA’s business:
“Some examples of that would be when AMD merged with ATI–that deal caused us to rethink our go-to-market strategy. We used to build chip sets completely top to bottom for every AMD microprocessor. When AMD bought ATI, it became a less logical decision to make. And so we decided that we would change our strategy from investing on AMD chip sets top to bottom to focusing on the Intel platform.
And [our chip] Ion is the result of that. And, you know, we suffered a year of transition in leaving the AMD market as we got into the Intel market. But here we are now with our fastest-growing business, which is Ion. Ion is basically a single-chip GPU with all of the system logic integrated into it and in [conjunction] with a microprocessor delivers an amazing PC.”
Straight from the cat’s mouth. NVIDIA appears to be closing down its AMD chipset operations, and focusing on the Intel marketplace. Even though they are going against a much larger, better funded, and much more emplaced competitor as compared to the guaranteed marketshare that they were receiving from the AMD space. Not only that, but Intel is attempting to squeeze NVIDIA out of the chipset market by denying them a license for the DMI connection. This was not an issue for NVIDIA when dealing with AMD CPUs, as they were one of the primary partners in the HyperTransport consortium (and in fact had one of the very first HyperTransport enabled products with the nForce 1 and 2 chipsets).
The 780a SLI promised new and interesting features like Hybrid SLI and Hybrid Power (which got a lot of people excited). Unfortunately, the promises of such features were left unfulfilled.
Furthermore NVIDIA had a very prominent place in the AMD server market. The nForce Pro 3600 chipset made its way into products from Tyan to Supremicro and others. NVIDIA does not have that option with the Intel servers and QPI (again, they do not have a license). While this strays away from the topic of SLI, they again are abandoning a potentially lucrative market, especially now that AMD has shown a bit of resurgence in that market with their Istanbul products, as well as the upcoming Magny-Cours.
While compiling this information, and considering the very public statement by JHH to Forbes, I thought to follow up with NVIDIA about this situation. Here is a reply from Tom Petersen, Product Manager for SLI:
“High end gamers are the primary customers of multi-GPU configurations as they have the most demanding graphical workloads (Hi Resolution 3D gaming). These same users have had a preference for Intel CPUs since the launch of Core 2 Duo in July of 2006, and over the last few years the high end of the AMD gaming segment has been under pressure. Even so, we believe we sell approximately the same volume of multi-GPU systems in the AMD space as AMD does. The absolute volume for the segment are lower than they used to be.
However – this is more a reflection of the segment than SLI.
• SLI continues to be the leading multi-gpu technology according to Steam : http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/ with 85% of all reported systems
• SLI holds all the world records for performance: http://www.futuremark.com/community/halloffame/3dmarkvantage_high/
• SLI is supported on over 750 games
Some of our customer’s preferences have changed – and we have changed our focus to match.”
This issue may not entirely be a NVIDIA push to get out of the market. In fact, if AMD decided to cut NVIDIA out by not releasing information, specifics, or engineering samples, there is very little NVIDIA could do. In talking with AMD though, that does not seem to be the case. In fact, if we look at AMD historically, they have very few examples of them cutting partners out of the loop even if they have products existing in the same space. I was able to get this comment from Brent Barry, manager, desktop product marketing from AMD.
“AMD is committed to fair and open business practices and recognizes the importance of maintaining an open ecosystem. nVidia is a valued partner and we work collaboratively to ensure we are able to meet our mutual customers’ needs.”
So we have three basic comments here. JHH says they are walking away from supporting AMD CPUs, Tom is basically saying that the products there now adequately support the platform, even though the AMD based platform is taking hits due to their uncompetitive products and the shipping volume is much lower because of it, and finally Brent is saying that they give NVIDIA everything they need to create products for the AMD CPU ecosystem.