Nvidia recently unveiled their first ever data center CPU thanks to their recent acquisition of ARM last year. At this point you may think that Intel would be quaking in their boots, but as it turns out the company is not phased at all, or so it seems.
Nvidia has long focused on Artificial Intelligence with their business, not just when it comes to data centers and CPUs, and as the AI industry gets more and more popular among big businesses (and even using AI as part of their infrastructure), Intel has faced pressure to implement AI into their technology as well.
When asked what Intel’s competitive position is with Nvidia following the announcement, Intel’s new CEO, Pat Gelsinger, said “Clearly, I'd say the idea of CPUs is Intel's provenance. We're now building AI [artificial intelligence] into that and we expect this to be an area where we are on the offense, not the defense going forward.”
Nvidia themselves believe that their new ‘Grace’ CPU for data centers will be able to “re-architect the data center” and advance large-scale AI and High Performance Computing (HPC). But they do acknowledge it is “a niche segment of computing.”
So when Nvidia was asked whether they plan for the Grace CPU to compete directly against Intel’s Xeon and AMD’s Epyc data center processors, the Green Team responded: “no. Nvidia continues to provide full support to all CPUs—x86, Arm and Power. The Nvidia Grace CPU is designed to be tightly coupled with an Nvidia GPU to remove bottlenecks for the most complex giant model AI and HPC applications.”
Now Intel is integrating AI acceleration into their own data center CPUs, which is featured in their recent Ice Lake processors: “in Ice Lake, we have extraordinary expansions in the A.I. capabilities. [Nvidia is] responding to us. It's not us responding to them. Clearly this idea of CPUs that are A.I.-enhanced is the domain where Intel is a dramatic leader.”
So whether Nvidia will indeed be able to compete against Intel’s 'provenance' doesn’t necessarily matter right now, as neither company is sweating over the other. At least that’s what they seem to be conveying publicly. Internally that might be a different story though.
Intel has been struggling to retain their dominance in the tech industry (though they are still far from being completely dethroned), and another competitor on top of AMD’s rise might have them a little scared.
What do you think? Is Intel really unphased by Nvidia’s entry into the market? Will this affect consumers in the future? How so? Let us know your thoughts!