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Nvidia stuns markets, signals how artificial intelligence could reshape tech sector

Shares of Nvidia, already one of the world’s most valuable companies, skyrocketed Thursday after the chipmaker forecast a huge jump in revenue, signalling how vastly the broadening use of artificial intelligence could reshape the tech sector.

The California company is close to joining the exclusive club of US$1 trillion companies like Alphabet, Apple and Microsoft, after shares jumped 25 per cent in early trading.

Late Wednesday the maker of graphics chips for gaming and artificial intelligence reported a quarterly profit of more than US$2 billion and revenue of US$7 billion, both exceeding Wall Street expectations.

Yet its projections for sales of US$11 billion this quarter is what caught Wall Street off guard. It’s a 64 per cent jump from last year during the same period, and well above the US$7.2 billion industry analysts were forecasting.

“It looks like the new gold rush is upon us, and Nvidia is selling all the picks and shovels,” Susquehanna Financial Group’s Christopher Rolland and Matt Myers wrote Thursday.

Chipmakers around the globe were pulled along. Shares of Taiwan Semiconductor rose 3.5 per cent, while South Korea’s SK Hynix gained five per cent. ASML based in the Netherlands added 4.8 per cent.

Nvidia founder and CEO of Jensen Huang said the world’s data centres are in need of a makeover given the transformation that will come with AI technology.

“The world’s US$1 trillion data centre is nearly populated entirely by (central processing units) today,” Huang said. “And US$1 trillion, US$250 billion a year, it’s growing of course but over the last four years, call it US$1 trillion worth of infrastructure installed, and it’s all completely based on CPUs and dumb NICs. It’s basically unaccelerated.”

AI chips are designed to perform artificial intelligence tasks faster and more efficiently. While general-purpose chips like CPUs can also be used for simpler AI tasks, they’re “becoming less and less useful as AI advances,” a 2020 report from Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology notes.

“Because of their unique features, AI chips are tens or even thousands of times faster and more efficient than CPUs for training and inference of AI algorithms,” the report adds, noting that AI chips can also be more cost-effective than CPUs due to their greater efficiency.

Analysts say Nvidia could be an early look at how AI may reshape the tech sector.

“Last night Nvidia gave jaw dropping robust guidance that will be heard around the world and shows the historical demand for AI happening now in the enterprise and consumer landscape,” Wedbush’s Dan Ives wrote. “For any investor calling this an AI bubble … we would point them to this Nvidia quarter and especially guidance which cements our bullish thesis around AI and speaks to the 4th Industrial Revolution now on the doorstep with AI.”


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