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HWSW Q&A with Alain Tiquet of NVIDIA

Barna József, 2000. november 11. 18:35
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NVIDIA is certainly one of the most dynamically progressing company in the computer market. For some time now, they have determined to launch a new product in every sixth month - forcing their competitors into a furious competition for the market leader title. With the coming of Comdex 2000, we thought that it would be a good idea to ask the company a few questions. This time it was Alain Tiquet, European Marketing Manager of NVIDIA Corporation who talked to us about hot rumors, the companys future plans and some personal matters. Read on if you are interested in what we managed to find out:

NVIDIA is certainly one of the most dynamically progressing company in the computer market. For some time now, they have determined to launch a new product in every sixth month - forcing their competitors into a furious competition for the market leader title. With the coming of Comdex 2000, we thought that it would be a good idea to ask the company a few questions. This time it was Alain Tiquet, European Marketing Manager of NVIDIA Corporation who talked to us about hot rumors, the company's future plans and some personal matters. Read on if you are interested in what we managed to find out:

Q1: NVIDIA, a company created out of almost nothing about five years ago, has emerged as a giant company with more and more ambitious aims. Your leading position in the 3D chip market as well as your expansion into the gaming console and integrated chipset market are all proof of this. However, as far as I can see, people - especially in this part of Europe - look by nature at giant companies with some suspicion and are rather inclined to support the seconds, thirds etc. - or if you wish, the losers. The aversion towards, say, Intel or Microsoft often seen to manifest itself in various forms does provide some examples of this phenomenon. I am almost sure that some witty journalists have already been working on some nickname for your company spiced with Attic salt. Are you prepared to handle this situation? Or is my conception but a false alarm?

Alain: NVIDIA is having one of the fastest business progression in the industry, our revenue 2 years ago was at about 158M$, 374M$ last year and this year we are shooting for 700M$ with about 700 employees, we are far from being a giant company like Intel or Microsoft. (I wish our revenue reach a significant percentage of their profit...)

We concentrate on designing chips and driver software, then we work with foundry (TSMC) to manufacture the chips and board manufacturers to manufacture the boards. Our products are available on the market thru about 16 different suppliers, each of them bringing their expertise to our technology. I do not feel we can come to the state you mention, our business model does not allow it.

Q2: But your plans to enter the gaming console market with actively participating in the making of Microsoft's XBox seem to be rather ambitious. As not only will you ship the video processor for the new console, but you will be the provider of its core chipset (i.e. the MCPX) also. However, if I am not mistaken, your MCP chip can be seen as the harbinger of future NVIDIA integrated motherboard chipsets. When can we expect, if at all, to see these chips on PC motherboards?

Alain: Microsoft has chosen NVIDIA as a supplier of high end technology and because of an outstanding record in terms of timely execution. The overall project is ambitious, the project contributors (Intel, NVIDIA and Microsoft) are ambitious and are willing to demonstrate they can execute it.

The MCPX design is dedicated to the Xbox project, and you are right we work on a version for PC architecture of this chip to address the entry level PC market.

Q3: Also, I cannot help asking this question: Rumor has it that you plan to acquire 3dfx, one of your greatest competitors. Given the patent infringement cases between the two companies as well as 3dfx's "bargain prize" at the moment, this would definitely be a rather advantageous step on your part. Can Brian Burke's joining your team be seen as a harbinger of this transaction? Or is it mere speculation?

Alain: This is speculation and rumors.

Q4: Graphics board prices have been drastically rising for some years now. If you couple this with the six-month product cycle that you dictate and meet from time to time, you might have a bad feeling that people trying to keep up with the latest innovations will be doomed to poverty sooner or later. I have just seen at some site that a certain NV20 chip based card (I must admit that I do not know what sort of a creature it could be:) can be expected to cost as much as $800. I know it quite well that development and innovation consumes a great deal of money; still I think that this trend should be made an end of sometime. What do you think?

Alain: Graphics chips are increasingly complex (a GeForce2 GTS counts 23M transistors, a Pentium III 9M). However, the price of the chip is not increasing at the same pace. A big part of the additional cost comes from the frame buffer memory moving from 16 to 32MB to 64MB, from SDR to DDR technology.

Talking about cost of products to come is just pure and useless speculation.

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