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Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA; play /ɪnˈvɪdi.ə/ in-vid-ee-ə)[1] is an American global technology company which specializes in the development of graphics processing units and chipset technologies for workstations, personal computers, and mobile devices. Based in Santa Clara, California, the company has become a major supplier of integrated circuits (ICs), graphics processing units (GPUs) and chipsets used in graphics cards, personal-computer motherboards, and video game consoles. Competitor ATI Technologies (AMD Graphics Group) and Nvidia dominate the computer graphics market to the point that other manufacturers have been forced to niche markets. Nvidia's flagship GeForce graphics products are in direct competition with ATI/AMD's Radeon graphics products.

Graphics-card families

Nvidia's product portfolio includes graphics processors, wireless communications processors, PC platform (motherboard core logic) chipsets, and digital media player software. The community of computer users arguably has come to know Nvidia best for its GeForce product line, which consists of both a complete line of discrete graphics chips found in AIB (add-in board) video cards and core graphics technology used in nForce motherboards, the Microsoft Xbox (not XBOX 360) game console, and Sony's PlayStation 3 game console.

The following are the most notable product families produced by Nvidia:


Company history

Founders and initial investment

Three people co-founded Nvidia in 1993:[2]

Jen-Hsun Huang (As of 2008 CEO), previously Director of CoreWare at LSI Logic and a microprocessor designer at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
Chris Malachowsky, an electrical engineer who worked at Sun Microsystems.
Curtis Priem, previously a senior staff engineer and graphics chip designer at Sun Microsystems.

The founders gained venture capital funding from Sequoia Capital.[3]

Major releases and acquisitions

The autumn of 1999 saw the release of the GeForce 256 (NV10), most notably introducing on-board transformation and lighting (T&L) to consumer-level 3D hardware. Running at 120 MHz and featuring four pixel pipelines, it implemented advanced video acceleration, motion compensation, and hardware sub-picture alpha blending. The GeForce outperformed existing products by a wide margin.

Due to the success of its products, Nvidia won the contract to develop the graphics hardware for Microsoft's Xbox game console, which earned Nvidia a $200 million advance. However, the project drew the time of many of Nvidia's best engineers away from other projects. In the short term this did not matter, and the GeForce2 GTS shipped in the summer of 2000.

In 2000, Nvidia acquired the intellectual assets of its one-time rival 3dfx, one of the biggest graphics companies of the mid- to late-1990s.[4]

In July 2002, Nvidia acquired Exluna for an undisclosed sum. Exluna made software rendering tools and the personnel were merged into the Cg project. [5]

In August 2003, Nvidia acquired MediaQ for aprox 70 Million.[6]

On April 22, 2004, Nvidia acquired iReady, a provider of high performance TCP/IP and iSCSI offload solutions.[7]

December 2004 saw the announcement that Nvidia would assist Sony with the design of the graphics processor (RSX) in the PlayStation 3 game console. In March 2006 it emerged that Nvidia would deliver RSX to Sony as an IP core, and that Sony alone would organize the manufacture of the RSX. Under the agreement, Nvidia will provide ongoing support to port the RSX to Sony's fabs of choice (Sony and Toshiba), as well as die shrinks to 65 nm. This practice contrasts with Nvidia's business arrangement with Microsoft, in which Nvidia managed production and delivery of the Xbox GPU through NVIDIA's usual third-party foundry contracts. Meanwhile, Microsoft chose[when?] to license a design by ATI and to make its own manufacturing arrangements for the Xbox 360 graphics hardware, as has Nintendo for the Wii console (which succeeds the ATI-based Nintendo GameCube).

On December 14, 2005, Nvidia acquired ULI Electronics, which at the time supplied third-party southbridge parts for chipsets to ATI, Nvidia's competitor.[8]

In March 2006, Nvidia acquired Hybrid Graphics[9]

In December 2006, Nvidia, along with its main rival in the graphics industry AMD (which had acquired ATI), received subpoenas from the U.S. Department of Justice regarding possible antitrust violations in the graphics card industry.[10]

Forbes magazine named Nvidia its Company of the Year for 2007, citing the accomplishments it made during the said period as well as during the previous 5 years.[11]

On January 5, 2007, Nvidia announced that it had completed the acquisition of PortalPlayer, Inc.[12]

In February 2008, Nvidia acquired Ageia Technologies for an undisclosed sum. "The purchase reflects both companies' shared goal of creating the most amazing and captivating game experiences," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of Nvidia. "By combining the teams that created the world's most pervasive GPU and physics engine brands, we can now bring GeForce-accelerated PhysX to twelve million gamers around the world."[13] (The press-release made no mention of the acquisition-cost nor of future plans for specific products.)

On January 10, 2011, NVIDIA signed a six-year cross-licensing agreement with Intel which marks the end of all outstanding legal disputes between these two companies. According to the agreement Intel will pay NVIDIA $1.5 billion in licensing fees payable in five annual installments.[14]

On February 15, 2011, Nvidia announced and demonstrated the first quad-core processor for mobile devices at the at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This chip is expected to ship with many tablets to be released in the second half of 2011. [15]

In May 2011, it was announced that Nvidia had agreed to acquire Icera, a baseband chip making company in the UK, for $367 million in cash.[16][17]

Documentation and drivers

Nvidia does not publish the documentation for its hardware, meaning that programmers cannot write appropriate and effective open-source drivers for Nvidia's products (compare Graphics hardware and FOSS). Instead, Nvidia provides its own binary GeForce graphics drivers for X.Org and a thin open-source library that interfaces with the Linux, FreeBSD or Solaris kernels and the proprietary graphics software. Nvidia also supports an obfuscated open-source driver that only supports two-dimensional hardware acceleration and ships with the X.Org distribution. NVIDIA's Linux support has promoted mutual adoption in the entertainment, scientific visualization, defense and simulation/training industries, traditionally dominated by SGI, Evans & Sutherland, and other relatively costly vendors.[citation needed]

The proprietary nature of Nvidia's drivers has generated dissatisfaction within free-software communities. Some Linux and BSD users insist on using only open-source drivers, and regard Nvidia's insistence on providing nothing more than a binary-only driver as wholly inadequate, given that competing manufacturers (like Intel) offer support and documentation for open-source developers, and that others (like ATI) release partial documentation and provide some active development.[18][19]

Because of the closed nature of the drivers, Nvidia video cards do not deliver adequate features on some platforms and architectures (However this is credited[by whom?] to be due to lack of the proper kernel API needed for implementation). Support for three-dimensional graphics acceleration in Linux on the PowerPC does not exist; nor does support for Linux on the hypervisor-restricted PlayStation 3 console. While some users accept the NVIDIA-supported drivers, many users of open-source software would prefer better out-of-the-box performance if given the choice.[20]

However, the performance and functionality of the binary Nvidia video card drivers surpass those of open-source alternatives[citation needed] following VESA standards.

Sales and market trends

According to a survey conducted by market watch firm Jon Peddie Research,[21] Nvidia shipped an estimated 33.00 million graphics chips in the first quarter of 2010, for a market share of 31.5%. ATI and Intel shipped an estimated 25.15 million units (24.0% market share) and an estimated 45.49 million units (43.5% market share) respectively. NVIDIA's year-to-year growth was 41.9%.

According to the monthly Steam hardware survey conducted by the game developer Valve,[22] NVIDIA had 59.11% of the PC video-card gaming market share as of January 2011 and ATI had 32.98% of the PC video-card gaming market share.

See also

Comparison of NVIDIA graphics processing units
Graphics Processing Unit
Integrated graphics
Video In Video Out (VIVO)
Molecular modeling on GPU
List of games with Nvidia 3D Vision support


^ YouTube - NVIDIA: The Way It's Meant To Be Played
^ "Company Info". Nvidia.com. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
^ Williams, Elisa (2002-04-15). "Crying wolf". Forbes.com. Forbes. Retrieved 2009-08-10. "Huang, a chip designer at AMD and lsi Logic, cofounded the company in 1993 with $20 million from Sequoia Capital and others."
^ Kanellos, Michael. "Nvidia buys out 3DFX". News.cnet.com. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
^ Becker, David. "Nvidia buys out Exluna". News.cnet.com. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
^ "Nvidia acquired MediaQ". Mediaq.com. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
^ "Press Release". Nvidia.com. 2004-04-22. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
^ "Nvidia acquires ULI Electronics". Nvidia.com. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
^ The Register Hardware news: Nvidia acquires Hybrid Graphics
^ "Justice Dept. subpoenas AMD, Nvidia". New York Times. 2006-12-01. Archived from the original on 2006-12-08.
^ Brian Caulfield (2008-01-07). "Shoot to Kill". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
^ Press Release: Nvidia acquires PortalPlayer, dated January 5, 2007.
^ "NVIDIA to Acquire AGEIA Technologies". Nvidia.com. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
^ "Intel to Pay NVIDIA Technology Licensing Fees of $1.5 Billion". Retrieved 2011-01-10.
^ "Nvidia Quad Core Mobile Processors Coming in August". PCWorld. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
^ "Cambridge coup as Icera goes to NVIDIA for £225m". Business Weekly. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
^ "NVIDIA to Acquire Baseband and RF Technology Leader Icera". Nvidia. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
^ "X.org, distributors, and proprietary modules". Linux Weekly News. Eklektix. 2006-08-14. Retrieved 2008-11-03.
^ An overview of graphic card manufacturers and how well they work with Ubuntu Ubuntu Gamer, January 10, 2011 (Article by Luke Benstead)
^ "''LinuxQuestions.org'' 20 September 2007". Linuxquestions.org. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
^ "Jon Peddie Research Announces First Quarter Shipments of PC Graphics". Business Wire. 2010-04-26. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
^ "Valve - Survey Summary Data". Store.steampowered.com. Retrieved 2010-11-09.

List of integrated circuit manufacturers

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