Technology Analysis

Nvidia becomes most valued company in the world

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Jensen Huang founded Nvidia in 1993 (Screenshot via YouTube)

From its humble beginnings in 1993, Nvidia has grown into a tech giant, reported to now be the most valuable company in the world. Paul Budde reports.

I WAS INTRIGUED about Nvidia eclipsing Microsoft as the world's most valuable company. The company now has a market cap reaching over $3.3 trillion. In the meantime – driven by the artificial intelligence (AI) boom – demand for Nvidia's AI chips keeps outstripping supply.

So, I delved a bit deeper into the company to get a better picture of these developments.

Nvidia is synonymous with cutting-edge graphics technology and has grown exponentially since its founding in 1993. Over the past three decades, Nvidia has evolved from a startup focused on graphics processing units (GPUs) to a powerhouse driving innovation in AI, autonomous vehicles and data centres. This transformation is a testament to the company’s visionary leadership, relentless innovation and strategic investments.

Company history

Nvidia was founded on 5 April 1993 by Jensen Huang, Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem, with a focus on developing GPUs for gaming and multimedia.

The company’s first product – the NV1, launched in 1995 – was an early 3D graphics card that, despite limited success, set the stage for future innovations. The RIVA series (1997-1999) marked a significant breakthrough, with the RIVA TNT and TNT2 establishing Nvidia as a key player in the GPU market due to their advanced features and performance.

The 1999 release of the GeForce 256, marketed as the world’s first GPU, revolutionised graphics processing and positioned Nvidia at the industry's forefront. That year, the company also went public on NASDAQ (NVDA).

Nvidia expanded beyond gaming into professional visualisation with the Quadro series and mobile computing with Tegra processors. In 2006, Nvidia introduced the CUDA platform, enabling general-purpose computing on GPUs and expanding its technology's applications in scientific computing and AI.

In the 2010s, Nvidia shifted its focus to AI and deep learning, leveraging CUDA to become a leader in these fields. Its GPUs became crucial for training neural networks, opening new markets and applications in various industries.

The company also targeted the automotive sector with the Nvidia Drive platform for autonomous vehicles, adopted by numerous manufacturers. In data centres, Nvidia's GPUs and DGX systems became essential for AI workloads. Strategic acquisitions, including Mellanox Technologies in 2020, enhanced its data centre capabilities and the planned acquisition of Arm Holdings aimed to strengthen its CPU market position, though it remains under regulatory review.

Products and services

Nvidia's diverse product portfolio includes:

  • GeForce: GPUs for gaming and consumer markets, renowned for their performance and innovation;
  • Quadro: Professional visualisation GPUs used in industries like design and digital content creation;
  • Tegra: Mobile processors powering devices from smartphones to automotive infotainment systems;
  • DGX Systems: AI supercomputers for deep learning and data analytics;
  • Nvidia Drive: A comprehensive platform for autonomous vehicle technology;
  • Nvidia RTX: Advanced ray-tracing GPUs for gaming and professional graphics;
  • Nvidia CloudXR: Cloud-based solutions for augmented and virtual reality; and
  • Nvidia Omniverse: A collaborative platform for 3D content creation.

Future plans

Nvidia is strategically expanding its influence across several key sectors.

In AI and deep learning, the company is heavily investing in advanced AI chips and systems, aiming to lead innovation in AI applications across diverse industries.

Nvidia Drive, focused on autonomous vehicles, is set to advance with enhanced AI capabilities through expanded partnerships with automotive manufacturers, bringing fully autonomous vehicles closer to reality.

In data centres, Nvidia is enhancing its products to meet the rising demand for AI-driven computing, making AI more accessible and efficient for enterprise customers.

In gaming, Nvidia continues to innovate with expansions like GeForce Now, its cloud gaming service, making high-performance gaming more accessible. Next-generation GPUs promise even more powerful and efficient gaming experiences.

Additionally, Nvidia is pioneering AI applications in healthcare, focusing on medical research, diagnostics and personalised medicine to revolutionise the healthcare sector. Through strategic acquisitions and global partnerships, Nvidia aims to strengthen its technological capabilities and foster innovation across the tech landscape.

Since its humble beginnings in 1993, Nvidia has become a technology giant. The company's journey is marked by visionary leadership and relentless innovation. Its ability to adapt and diversify its focus areas – from gaming GPUs to AI, autonomous vehicles and data centres – has positioned Nvidia as a leader in multiple industries.

From what I can see, as Nvidia continues to expand its technology portfolio and explore new frontiers, the company appears well-positioned to reap the benefits of the technological changes that are happening now and set to continue well into the future.

Paul Budde is an Independent Australia columnist and managing director of Paul Budde Consulting, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy organisation. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBudde.

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