Nvidia CEO goes on Intel rant

At his company's financial analyst day, Jen-Hsun Huang rails against Intel, citing his frustration with Nvidia's market share struggle among other things.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
3 min read

Nvidia CEO and co-founder Jen-Hsun Huang let rip with a diatribe against Intel at Nvidia's financial analyst day on Thursday. Huang cited frustration with recent Intel comments stating that discrete graphics cards will become "unnecessary."

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang Nvidia

Because Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, includes integrated-graphics silicon in most of its chipsets the company has become the world's largest supplier of graphics chips. Its upcoming Nehalem processors will move the graphics from the chipset onto the same piece of silicon as the main processor. A design that is expected to result in vastly better performance.

(Note: A contrarian take on the graphics market states that Nvidia remains the #1 graphics supplier because approximately 73 million Intel integrated graphics processors (IGP) are unused in systems due to "double-attach" with an Nvidia solution, according to Doug Freedman of American Technology Research. More here at ExtremeTech.)

This image of Intel as an unstoppable graphics juggernaut is what Huang takes issue with. What set him off initially was a comment from an Intel graphics and gaming technologist who said that consumers "probably won't need" discrete cards in the future. Nvidia's primary business is designing and supplying graphics chips for discrete graphics cards that go into PCs.

"We don't typically like to do this. It's just that we've been taking it and taking it and taking it. Every single frickin' day. Are you allowed to say that word? Every day all over the world. Enough is enough."

Huang was especially upset about Intel's claims of boosting integrated graphics performance in the future, saying Intel's claims paled against what Nvidia will achieve by that time.

"Claim after claim after claim. They're just false. They cross the line of fair play," he said. "Here's another one. Nvidia's gonna be dead. Because we're (Intel) sticking the graphics in the CPU and (Nvidia) will have no place to stick it," he said.

Huang also attacked Intel's marketing machine. "Just because they have this enormous marketing budget. Just because they have platforms everywhere in the world. It doesn't make it right. To take on smaller companies. It's just not right."

Huang also mounted an aggressive defense of gaming on the PC--one of the main reasons many consumers opt for Nvidia graphics chips. He began by claiming that Intel graphics can't run games. "We're not the only ones saying this. This is Tim Sweeney. One of the most important game developers in the entire world. 'Intel is incapable of running modern games. Intel's integrated graphics just don't work. I don't think they will ever work.' This wasn't said in 1994. This was said on March 10, 2008," Huang said.

"(It's) one of the most important apps. I play games. A lot more people play games today than before. It's a big industry. We happen to think games are important. Game developers are important. Game players are important. Online games, important. Retail games, important. First person shooters, important. Simulation games, important. I'm a perfectly grown adult. I'm not ashamed of them."

Intel also has plans to bring out a graphics engine code-named Larrabee that uses "many cores" to take on high-end engineering and scientific applications. And presumably games too.

When asked to comment, Intel spokesman Dan Snyder said, "Are you surprised? Nvidia's CEO has been very vocal about their feelings for several months now, so I don't think any of this comes as a surprise."