Nvidia stakes its claim to the data centre

April 16, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Nvidia stakes its claim to the data centre
Nvidia’s GTX symposium this week has highlighted the company’s move to dominate the data centre through new chips, a subscription hardware service, digital twin software and startups

Nvidia already dominates with machine learning and AI via its GPU technologies, but a number of AI data centre chip suppliers are eating into that market. So is looking to offer new capabilities through a new chip it is calling Grace. This will use ARM’s Neoverse processor technology and is part of the Nvidia ‘cadence’ of chip development that will take on Intel’s Xeon and AMD’s EPYC x86 processors when it launches in 2023 with support for the latest low power LP DDR5 memory technology.

A European supercomputer is set to be the first demonstration of the new technology.

The Grace processor and the BlueField data processing unit (DPU) are key parts of a data centre roadmap consisting of 3 chips: CPU, GPU, and DPU, says Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia (above). One year will focus on x86 platforms, the next on Arm platforms. “Every year will see new exciting products from us,” said Huang. “Three chips, yearly leaps, one architecture.”

This is a step away from Nvidia developing custom versions of the ARM architecture, as Grace will use the commercial implementations of the Neoverse cores. These have two versions, the N2 and Z1, but will put Nvidia in direct competition with one of its main competitors. Amazon uses the previous N1 Neoverse architecture for the Graviton 2 chip its uses in the Amazon Web Services

Both of these moves highlight that challenge that Nvidia faces in competing with large companies that are also partners. This is at the crux of its issues with the on-going $40bn acquisition of ARM.

At the same time Nvidia has also set up a subscription scheme to rent out its data centre technology to use in the office. It was also supporting its high performance computing chips in self-driving cars and advanced ADAS driver assistance systems.

The company also aims to have a key role in the technology running in the data centre, with its digital twin Omniverse technology and looking to be a venture capital fund that cooperates, and competes. with other funds. The Inception VC Alliance aims to fast-track the growth for thousands of AI startups around the globe.

Investment in AI companies increased 52 percent last year to $52.1 billion, according to PitchBook and a thriving AI ecosystem depends on both VCs and startups. The alliance aims to help investment firms identify and support leading AI startups early as part of their effort to realize meaningful returns down the line.

“Being at the forefront of AI and data science puts NVIDIA Inception in a position to help educate and nurture both VCs and startups, which is why we’ve launched the NVIDIA Inception VC Alliance,” said Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development and head of Inception. “By creating opportunities for our VC partners to connect with our Inception members, we strive to help advance the businesses of both. The reality is that startups need VCs and VCs need startups and we want to help be a part of that.”

Herbst said that founding members of the alliance include venture firms NEA, Acrew, Mayfield, Madrona Venture Group, In-Q-Tel, Pitango, Vanedge Capital and Our Crowd.

“AI startups are at the forefront of innovation and the NVIDIA Inception VC Alliance will bring them even closer access to the leading venture capital firms investing in AI,” said Greg Papadopoulos, venture partner at NEA. “Exposure to world-class capabilities from VC partners creates a fast-track for AI startups to accelerate their business in a way that benefits their stakeholders, customers and investors.”

www.nvidia.com

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