NVIDIA is the god of graphics processing units or GPU and the company has a nearly-monopolistic market share of the industry with chip experts believing the chip giant is hard to replace but it’s a possibility.
Iluvatar Corex CTO, Lu Jianping said NVIDIA controls 95% of the GPU chip market for general-purpose GPUs used to train AI models.
This comment was made during an online session organized by Chinese consultancy firm, ICWise with the focus being on the country’s chip supply chain.
On the other hand, Chinese rivals have started making their own GPUs even though they are yet to still be able to challenge the industry giants such as AMD and Nvidia according to Lu who has worked for both Nvidia and Samsung.
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Lu believes Chinese firms can catch up by merely improving “versatility” through support for more AI algorithms.
“If a client has developed an AI algorithm … it should be able to run on an Nvidia chip, but also on an Iluvator chip,” Lu said.
Ever since the US government has banned Nvidia from selling two of its most advanced chips – the A100 and the H100 to clients in China, the online session Lu was in was meant to debate how Chinese GPU chip makers can cover that gap left behind.
According to analysis, Iluvatar Corex could be the best replacement in China as it claims to have the only domestically produced GPU in mass production.
It Tiangai 100 took about four years to build and is already being used in cloud computing applications while it has also received a huge 230 million Yuan (US$33 Million) in orders so far.
The company said at the 2022 World AI Conference in Shanghai this month.
Lu also added that he was unable to find any mature rival product from Chinese GPU start-ups for assessment against Nvidia chips.
“So far we can’t get any, probably because everyone is still in the development stage,” he said.
Since the US-China tech warm, Nvidia was banned from selling its high-end GPU chips to its Chinese clients despite a continued computation demand in the country’s Ai application market which could in turn make the local startups step-up to the vacuum left by Nvidia in the country according to Lu.
As a starting point, Chinese GPU companies can “benchmark” their products against those from Nvidia.
“Making products not far from what Nvidia can offer is key to continue generating revenue,” he said.
According to Nvidia, the ban may result in sales losses of about US$400 million in its third financial quarter even though the company is talking with Chiense clients about making alternative products which are not included in export controls as replacements.