Nvidia is planning to invest between $500,000 and $5 million in startup companies that are interested in developing applications and technologies that work with GPUs. The goal is to encourage companies to work with GPUs in the same way developers have worked to develop applications and technologies for CPUs. At the same time, the investment program allows Nvidia to build an ecosystem in the same way Intel has built one for its x86 processors during the years.
Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development for Nvidia, told eWEEK
that Nvidia had been investing in other companies interested in GPU technology
for a number of years, but Nvidia decided to formally announce this program
"We have been making investments in this space, and we deiced that these
companies need our help more than ever," said Herbst. "VC [venture capital]
funding is still there, but it's not as liquid as it was six to 12 months ago.
The companies themselves are trying operate on a leaner and meaner basis, so we
think we can be really helpful being a distribution channel and give them
marketing support and visibility."
In addition to the money it plans to invest in a handful of companies this
year, Nvidia plans to work with various venture capital funds to have them also
invest in these companies. In the past several years, Nvidia has invested in a
number of other companies, including Keyhole, which Google eventually bought,
and Mental Images, which Nvidia first invested in and then acquired outright.
Nvidia plans to invest in between three and five companies each year. This depends
on the overall health of the economy and Nvidia's financial outlook. (Nvidia,
like other chip makers, has suffered financial setbacks due to the recent
The announcement from Nvidia comes at a time when the tech industry has been
hit hard by the recession in the United States
and the overall slowdown of the global economy. Even tech
stalwarts such as IBM and Microsoft have begun eliminating workers,
although these companies have said they still plan to invest in research and
development. In a sense, Nvidia is using this opportunity to reinforce the
company's goal of investing in GPU technologies even during rough economic
At the same time, Nvidia is looking to build up its business to compete
against Intel. For years, Intel has built an ecosystem around its CPUs and its
x86 microarchitecture through investing in companies dedicated to that type of
technology. By offering money in these lean times, Nvidia is looking to do the
Nvidia is also looking to show that the GPU is as viable as the CPU in
solving new types of computing problems, especially when it comes to creating software
to take advantage of multicore chip designs.
and Nvidia have clashed in court about Nvidia's right to make chip sets for processors
based on Intel's Nehalem microarchitecture. The fight between the two shows
how Nvidia and Intel view the future of computing and what role GPUs will play
compared with traditional x86-based CPUs.
"This is really about building up ecosystems around the GPU," said Herbst.
"It's also about how the GPU platform is going to become the heart and soul of
the new PC, as our CEO Jen Hsun-Huang calls
it. There has never been a better time to amp our investment around it. If you
think about it, the GPU using our CUDA [Compute Unified Device Architecture]
architecture and other technologies allows people to do things with graphics
processors that could not have been envisioned or executed just a few years
However, Herbst pointed out that while Nvidia is encouraging development on
the GPU, it's not trying to limit companies to its own graphics technology. In
other words, a
company working with Advanced Micro Devices' ATI graphics chip is also eligible
for this investment.
In addition to the seed money, Nvidia is planning to launch a new Web site
called Venture Zone, which will showcase the work of companies working with GPU
technology. Nvidia also plans to expand its Emerging Companies Summit.