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Nvidia hits prime time at CES this year

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What do you do when you rapidly become one of the most important chip manufacturers in the world and your stock price more than triples in a single year? For Nvidia, it means you throw a massive keynote stuffed with announcements that are setting the stage for a suite of products built around your core technology — building GPUs — that will make you the center of the conversation around artificial intelligence.

Nvidia has become the beneficiary of a major shift in the computational requirements for artificial intelligence and deep learning, which depend on GPUs and alternative processors to handle a different style of tasks. That technology is needed for anything from sifting through massive data piles to improving machine learning to power the sensing technology necessary for self-driving cars. And it means Nvidia has, along with Amazon, become a centerpiece of the technology industry in the span of a year or so — and at CES this year.

All of this can pretty much be summed up in a chart:

At CES, Nvidia — typically known for having more subdued events, at least according to my coworkers — threw one of the larger press conferences last night. Here are the headlines from the event:

Nvidia builds a co-pilot into its autonomous drive computer

Nvidia makes it easier for gamers to stream live to Facebook

Nvidia debuts new Shield with 4K, an AI mic add-on and Google Assistant

Nvidia’s GeForce Now puts a gaming PC in the cloud

A lot of these announcements are geared toward consumers — the Facebook Live announcement, for example, included a launch date for Mass Effect: Andromeda. But what’s more significant is that Nvidia has rapidly become a backbone for a type of compute power that developers are demanding as they need their apps to be smarter, faster and more personalized. They’re going to have to help sensors rapidly detect minute changes in the environment around them, like small changes in a person’s facial expression.


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