Papercheap.co.uk writers decided to write about the history of Nvidia Company. It can be rightfully called a real success story. It started as a classic movie about enthusiasts who are passionate about their business.
In 1993, three experienced microelectronics engineers founded a new company. Their startup had the niche defined from the very beginning: computer 3D graphics. This meant that a young and infamous Nvidia was about to stand on the arena against the video card market leader of that time: the respected company named 3dfx.
Here is a curious detail: Jensen Huang, one of three founders, used to work for AMD that later became the main competitor of Nvidia. Two other partners, Curtis Priem and Chris Malachowski, were employees of Sun Microsystems, one of the world leaders of server software and hardware manufacturing. All in all, the qualification of founders was impressive, and they proved it during their further fights with video card industry titans.
The first Nvidia video card with a simple name of NV1 appeared in 1995 and included chips processing sounds and joysticks. It became the leader in terms of 3D graphics performance, but the NV1 2D interface processing had certain troubles. Additionally, Microsoft planted the bomb under the NV1 by creating their DirectX API: Nvidia card did not have hardware support of this technology. The company tried to work on NV2. But soon, it became obvious that the new adapter should be created from scratch.
The year is 1997. Riva cards became embodiments of Nvidia’s attempt to show up everywhere possible. Riva had hardware support of DirectX and OpenGL at a time, but the closed proprietary Glide API belonging to 3dfx still remained unavailable. This meant Nvidia products couldn’t allow users playing best games of that time on ultra settings. But the company decided to use another approach: they released Detonator drivers supporting 3DNow instructions. Combined with AMD processors, Nvidia video cards now could show the highest rendering speeds for 3D games.
In 1999, Nvidia separates their products into 2 lines: mass market cards were represented by the Riva TNT2 card. Professional hardware solutions were named Quadro. This separation was a clear marketing move: they just blocked some functions connected to anti-aliasing and lighting in mass-market cards. This decision allowed the company to take all market segments without expanding their production capacities.
In the same year, Nvidia releases the GeForce 256, the world’s first GPU: a complete graphics processing unit freeing the central processor from scene lighting and transformation calculations. 3dfx was not able to construct a worthy answer. Its time has come to an end. In 2000, Nvidia absorbed their former competitor and directed efforts to compete with ATI instead. The beginning of a new millennium was great for Nvidia: the number of sold video chips reached 100 million; the company was growing rapidly, introduced the DirectX 9 hardware support, realized the SLI technology and cooperated with the world’s best game developers.
But the period had its sad moments too. After the pretentious presentation of FX video card series, Nvidia suddenly understood that the pixel shader 2.0 block was a total failure. The nemeses of Nvidia – ATI R300 GPU’s were much ahead of their competitors in terms of performance.
They balanced the situation in 2004 after releasing the GeForce 6000 series supporting 3.0 shaders and the SLI mode. And in 2006, with the GeForce 8000 providing hardware support of DirectX 10 and pixel shader 4.0, Nvidia entered the age of its total dominance upon the gaming market.
The year 2007 was the time when Nvidia entered the field of parallel calculations: they presented the CUDA architecture and Tesla video cards. From that time, Nvidia became wanted for supercomputer manufacturers: Tesla processors allowed setting performance records with quite modest power consumption rates.
Of course, Nvidia never forgot about their traditional market: GeForce 400, 500, 600, 700 and 900 series showed better performance levels than their AMD competitors while not requiring too powerful PSU’s. A chain of small company absorptions brought access to exclusive products like PhysX. And the 3D Vision technology started the massive VR age.
GeForce GTX 1000 and RTX 2000
Nowadays, Nvidia remains the green giant of CG industries and does not even think about falling back from captured positions. GeForce 2000 series brought a graphics innovation into the world of gaming: the real-time ray tracing technology named Nvidia RTX.
The company has a really wide presence on gaming and computing markets, and competitors need to show something really stunning in order to push Nvidia out from the hill of CG kings.