Nvidia beats Q3 expectations as data center sales climbs

Data center revenue more than doubled year-over-year, while all other segments saw growth as well.

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Nvidia published its third quarter fiscal 2018 financial results on Thursday, exceeding market expectations with growth across all platforms.

The semiconductor giant posted non-GAAP earnings of $1.33 on record revenue of $2.64 billion. A year prior, the company posted non-GAAP earnings of 83 cents per share on revenue of $2 billion.

Wall Street was looking for earnings of 94 cents per share on revenue of $2.36 billion.

In a statement, CEO Jensen Huang said the company had a strong quarter across all growth drivers, including data center business.

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"Industries across the world are accelerating their adoption of AI," he said. "Our Volta GPU has been embraced by every major internet and cloud service provider and computer maker. Our new TensorRT inference acceleration platform opens us to growth in hyperscale datacenters."

Datacenter revenue came to $501 million for the quarter, up from $240 million a year prior.

As AI workloads and high-performance computing have increased demand for GPUs, Nvidia has become a key enterprise player. Still, the company is facing stepped up competition from other chipmakers. Just this week, ZDNet reported that Intel is teaming up with AMD to produce a next-generation notebook chip that should help both companies fend off Nvidia. Meanwhile, Intel announced it's stepping up its development of high-end graphics offerings after poaching key graphics expert Raja Koduri from AMD.

Asked on a Thursday conference call about the latest developments in the industry, Huang said that Koduri's move to Intel is a "great loss for AMD," as well as "recognition by Intel, probably, that the GPU is incredibly important now."

"The modern GPU is not a graphics accelerator," he said. "These processors are domain specific parallel accelerators. They're enormously complex."

Asked about outlook for the data center business, Huang noted that Nvidia's ramp up of Volta only recently got underway. Already, though, every major cloud provider and major server maker is now supporting it.

"This ramp is just the first part of supporting the buildout of GPU-accelerated servers... for data centers all over the world as well as cloud service providers all over the world," he said.

Analyst Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights and Strategy, noted what while the impressive increase in data center revenue was driven by machine learning training, Nvidia also saw impressive growth in gaming, driven by market expansion in PC gaming and the strength of GeForce.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018, Nvidia is expected revenue of $2.65 billion, plus or minus two percent.

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