Graphics chipmaker Nvidia is attempting to grab a bigger share of the business computing market from its dominant rival Intel Corp with a new set of software tools that were released on Wednesday.
With the new software that it calls, Nvidia is hoping to move beyond the fast-growing but relatively small market for artificial intelligence chips. It’s targeting the much larger market for chips that do basic business data processing such as forecasting inventories. Nvidia announces the software at a conference in Germany.
Nvidia got its start in the 1990s with graphics processors to make video games look more realistic. However, in recent years its chips have become used as so-called “accelerators” in data centers to speed up artificial intelligence work, like training computers to recognize images or human speech.
Nvidia’s strong positions in the artificial intelligence field came from its software efforts rather than its chips alone. About ten years ago, Nvidia created a platform that would enable developers program its chips for a wide range of tasks rather than just video games graphics. Artificial intelligence researchers welcomed it.
However, for all the buzz that artificial intelligence generates, other types of computing, such as perfecting analytical models for more accurate inventory forecasts, are more common in businesses. Nvidia’s new software aims to quicken that kind of work.
Nvidia has tied up with a range of companies, which include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Oracle Corp, and a branch of International Business Machines, to unleash the new tools. They are currently being used by Walmart Inc, said Nvidia.
“It’s really an ecosystem we’re trying to build out,” said Jeff Tseng, who is the head of product for artificial intelligence infrastructure at Nvidia.
However, Nvidia will have a tough fight against Intel, whose chips are already the industry standard for business analytics work. The answer would be for Nvidia to find early customers for whom the speed benefits outweigh the cost of new chips, according to Stephen O’Grady, who is an industry analyst with RedMonk.
“In many cases where we’re talking about basic data science, it’s going to be computationally faster,”he said. “This is their big play to get into the general purpose data science side of things.”
Elsewhere within Nvidia’s scope, it said that Swedish automaker Volvo would begin using its artificial intelligence computer to deliver low-level autonomous features in all its next-generation vehicles.
The deal was announced during a developers’ conference in Munich. It underscores the importance of computing power even for partially autonomous systems, which are not created for full self-driving but offer drivers assistance, like lane keeping or emergency breaking.
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