The rise of NVIDIA
NVIDIA needs no introduction at FiringSquad or anywhere else in the hardware industry. The company has become the poster child for consumer 3D graphics. Ever since the release of its RIVA 128 graphics card, NVIDIA has never let its momentum slow down.
When NVIDIA made its initial public offering three years ago, it was joining a club of only a handful public fabless graphics semiconductor companies: ATI, S3, Trident, Tseng Labs, Number Nine, Cirrus Logic, 3dfx, and 3Dlabs. We all watched as the company climbed through the ranks with the TNT, TNT2, GeForce, and GeForce2 line of graphics processors.
Big green juggernaut
Through aggressive product development, near-perfect execution, and very strong arms, NVIDIA rose to the top of the industry. Today, NVIDIA owns all of 3dfx's intellectual property, has numerous OEM PC deals and has recently become Apple's default high-performance desktop graphics provider. Soon we'll see the mobile GeForce2 Go shipping in laptops from Toshiba, and we can't forget the upcoming introduction of NVIDIA's next generation NV20 GPU. After that, NVIDIA can look forward to the launch of Xbox as well as its new line of motherboard chipsets.
How did NVIDIA grow to become the leader in its industry? Has NVIDIA made any mistakes? What technologies bridged the gap between the NV1 and the RIVA 128? What is NVIDIA's future strategy? Are there any cool random facts about NVIDIA that most people don't know? Do you think we'd be asking these questions if we didn't have the answers?
In the beginning
When the PC multimedia revolution was just starting, three industry veterans formed NVIDIA in January 1993. Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA President and CEO, had been the Director of Coreware at LSI Logic's "system-on-a-chip" division. Curtis Priem, NVIDIA Chief Technical Officer, had been the architect for the first graphics processor for the PC, the IBM Professional Graphics Adapter, and more recently had developed the GX graphics chips at Sun Microsystems. Chris Malachowsky, VP of Hardware Engineering, was a Senior Staff Engineer for Sun Microsystems, Inc., and was co-inventor of the GX graphics architecture.
To give you an idea of the state of the industry at the time, "MPC Level 2" had just been declared to promote audio and video technologies on the computer. CD-ROMs and 16-bit sound cards just started growing in popularity. Graphics accelerators at the time supported full motion video as well as photo-realistic, high-color 15-bit and higher color depths. It was in this environment that NVIDIA developed its first graphics chip with the help of SGS-Thomson Microelectronics (ST Micro).