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Nvidia: Intel making GPUs is “the most significant undertaking… in the world today.”

Nvidia’s CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, took some time out from last night’s investor call to talk about the AMD/Intel switcheroo.

Nvidia's Jen-Hsun Huang

Nvidia’s CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, took some time out from last night’s investor call – getting all excited about doubling data centre revenue, and bumping up their GPU revenue by almost a third year-on-year – to talk about the AMD/Intel switcheroo of the last week. He reckons AMD have seriously lost out with Raja Koduri leaving and that Intel’s resurrection of their GPU division is “just an enormous undertaking.” And was probably feeling rather smug about it all.

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Jen-Hsun was asked if he had any comment about Intel’s renewed interest in the graphics space and yes, yes he did. “First of all, Raja leaving AMD is a great loss for AMD,” he said on the investor call. “And it’s a recognition by Intel probably that the GPU is just incredibly, incredibly important right now.”

Huang also pointed out that at Nvidia they plan their GPU roadmaps five years ahead, and that it takes around three years to build a new generation of chips. They’ve also got some 5,000 engineers working on just the software side of things to make the GPUs usable for all the different markets the architectures go into.

“So when you think about it from that perspective,” he explained, “it’s just an enormous undertaking. Arguably the most significant undertaking of any processor in the world today.”

It doesn’t sound like Nvidia are too worried yet about Intel taking aim specifically at their current domain, and if it’s going to take Intel at least three years to get silicon to market then Nvidia’s own chips will be even more advanced by then. But the chances of Intel managing to get a GPU together in that timeframe, given their graphics card making history, is surely pretty slim.

And if this is all about Intel getting in on the AI/machine learning game rather than hitting 60fps in Star Wars Battlefront 5 they’re going to have to work incredibly hard to get anywhere near the 10x generation-on-generation boost Nvidia have made going from the Pascal to Volta architectures.

Intel have traditionally been working on 10% peformance increases with their CPUs, so that’s going to require a big change…