AI chip giant Nvidia nears trillion dollar valuation

·2-min read
Long a star in the videogame world because of its high-performance graphics-handling computer chips, Nvidia technology is now coveted by companies investing in artificial intelligence
Long a star in the videogame world because of its high-performance graphics-handling computer chips, Nvidia technology is now coveted by companies investing in artificial intelligence

The market valuation of Nvidia, a US firm which specializes in chips coveted in the artificial intelligence boom, neared one trillion dollars on Thursday after the company blew past quarterly earnings expectations.

Nvidia shares surged as much as 27 percent, putting them on course for a record performance with a market cap above $900 billion.

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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 centers around the world.

The company stunned the markets on Thursday with revenue guidance for this coming quarter of $11 billion, which was more than 50 percent 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.

- 'Chasing Nvidia' -

Founded thirty years ago by American-Taiwanese 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 artificial intelligence.

"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 centers 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 center activity compensated for this slowdown.

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