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AI chip giant Nvidia nears trillion-dollar valuation

AFP – The market valuation of Nvidia, a United States (US) firm which specialises in chips coveted in the artificial intelligence (AI) boom, neared USD1 trillion dollars on Thursday after the company blew past quarterly earnings expectations.

Nvidia shares surged as much as 27 per cent, putting them on course for a record performance with a market cap above USD900 billion.

If Nvidia hits the one-trillion mark, it will join a club of only five companies – all US tech giants except Saudi Aramco, the oil behemoth.

Nvidia’s chips are a central ingredient to the generative AI revolution, capable of delivering the computing heft needed to churn out complex content in just seconds from data centres around the world.

The company stunned the markets on Thursday with revenue guidance for this coming quarter of USD11 billion, which was more than 50 per cent higher than most forecasts.

“This is a game changer and will have a major ripple impact across the tech space,” said a note from Wedbush securities.

Before the major move on Thursday, shares in Nvidia had already doubled in 2023 amid the frenzy over AI chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

The Nvidia headquarters in California, United States. PHOTO: AFP


Founded 30 years ago by engineer Jen-Hsun “Jensen” Huang, this little-known company was initially a star in the video game world.

The Silicon Valley-based company has long been known for graphics processing units (GPUs), which ramp up image quality and vanquish response lag time for gamers.

The ability of GPUs to deftly handle complex tasks simultaneously make them superior to conventional computer chips when it comes to graphics, as well as the kind of processing involved with AI.

“Nvidia has become kind of synonymous with AI,” independent tech analyst Rob Enderle told AFP. The company “has been investing in the AI boom for almost two decades. They saw an opportunity, and now everybody else is chasing it”, he added.

Some of the GPUs used in data centres cost tens of thousands of dollars apiece, bringing in huge returns to Nvidia, while also raising concern that the future of AI innovation will be out of reach to smaller companies.

Uncomfortable with their dependence on outside providers such as Nvidia, the US tech giants are investing heavily to develop their own chips and bring the technology in house.

Nvidia’s share price take-off contrasts with that of other chipmakers, who are predicting a slowdown in the market this year, mainly due to lower demand for personal computers.

This trend has led to a sharp drop in Nvidia’s video game revenues, but growth in the AI-driven data centre activity compensated for this slowdown.

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