Nvidia ups its enterprise computing game

Among the most notable moves by Nvidia was the launch of its GRID Visual Computing Appliance, which starts at $24,900 and has an annual software license of $2,400.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Nvidia stepped up its corporate computing game with a visual computing appliance, enterprise vendor backing for its GRID efforts and a few big data use cases.


The news, delivered Tuesday in a session that covered server, gaming and smartphone plans, comes as Nvidia has gained traction in the high-performance computing market. Now Nvidia needs to garner more enterprise momentum and grow its revenue base. The company's GRID portfolio includes hardware and software packages to deliver high-powered graphics capabilities via public and private clouds.

Among the most notable moves by Nvidia was the launch of its GRID Visual Computing Appliance (right), which starts at $24,900 and has an annual software license of $2,400. The appliance is based on Nvidia's graphic processing units and initially designed for intensive visualization applications from the likes of Adobe, Autodesk and Dassault. The initial buyers for this Nvidia appliance would be film studios and design firms looking to deliver GPU performance to Apple, Windows and Linux systems.

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The appliance from Nvidia is designed to target small and mid-sized businesses, which can create virtualized GPU systems. The GRID Visual Computing Appliance packs 16 Nvidia GPUs, GRID VGX software and graphics performance.

Separately, Nvidia said its GRID technology will be used in servers from Dell, HP and IBM with virtualization support from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware.

The next big mission for Nvidia is to garner more use cases for its Telsa GPU accelerators and return on investment data with the help of its hardware partners. For now, Nvidia is citing use cases from companies like Salesforce.com, Shazam and Cortexica for things like analytics, image recognition and audio searching. Salesforce uses Nvidia GPU accelerators for Twitter analysis.

CEO Jen-Hsun Huang outlined some of Nvidia's traction. Specifically, Nvidia has 20 gaming trials for GRID, 75 enterprise trials and 15 pilots for the VCA appliance. Of those, the latter two buckets should turn into revenue for the current fiscal year.

Analysts gave Nvidia's enterprise effort kudos, but said the jury is out. Evercore analyst Patrick Wang said Nvidia's move into the enterprise can offset declines in the PC graphic processor market over time. He said:

Management looks to offset potential client GPU declines with a push into enterprise hardware (virtualizing GPU, workstation). We believe GRID (Enterprise, VCA, Gaming) could eventually be a healthy and sustainable business in the future but await evidence of industry traction before turning more positive.

In other words, Nvidia will need to use the standard enterprise playbook to really get corporate traction. To grab that momentum it'll have to win over customers industry by industry.

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