Nvidia Shipped 400 Thousand Fermi-Class Chips – Analyst

Yields of Fermi Exceeded Our Expectations – Nvidia

by Anton Shilov
05/14/2010 | 06:59 AM

An independent analyst has confirmed that Nvidia Corp., a leading supplier of graphics and multimedia chips, has shipped hundreds of thousands Fermi-generation graphics processors. According to Jon Peddie, the head of Jon Peddie Research, Nvidia so far has shipped 400 thousand Fermi-generation chips.


“My estimate is Nvidia has shipped over 400 thousand [Fermi processors] as Tesla and Gefore units. The shipment numbers ‘to date’. Nvidia shipped a lot to OEMs, loads of Tesla versions since the announcement in Boston in March,” said Jon Peddie in a conversation with X-bit labs.

Earlier high-ranking Nvidia executives said that the company had shipped hundreds of thousands Fermi-class graphics processors. At present those chips are all based on the code-named GF100 (NV60, GT300) design, which is so complex that many analyst estimated that the yields of such chips was between 20% and 30%. Nvidia claims that its yields were higher than expected.

“Yields of our high-end, Fermi-based GPUs were much higher than expected, leading to good availability of our new GeForce GTX 480 and 470 GPUs and Tesla high-performance computing products,” said David White, chief financial officer of Nvidia, during the latest quarterly conference call with analysts.

Analyst Jon Peddie claims that the problems with yields are over for Nvidia. It has to be noted that in order to achieve those yields, Nvidia had to cut down the number of GF100’s stream processors from 512 to 480 on GeForce GTX 480 graphics board and to 448 on GeForce GTX 470 and Tesla C2050 add-in-cards.

“I think most of Nvidia's problems are behind and they are back on track. You will see a whole slew of derivative products in the next few months,” said Mr. Peddie.

Even though Nvidia celebrates the vast amount of Fermi-class graphics chips shipped, many questions regarding business side of the achievement remain. The GF100 – in both GeForce and Tesla versions – is by any definition a premium product, which drives up revenues, profits and margins. Nevertheless, it does not look that Fermi was actually a breakthrough for the company’s business.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2011 Nvidia posted 2% quarter-over-quarter revenue growth as well as 0.9% gross margin growth. The company recorded net income of $137.6 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, for the Q1 FY2011, compared to $131.1 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, in the Q4 FY2010. The company indicated that during the first quarter if fiscal 2011 the GPU business was flat, Quadro business was on the rise (there are no Fermi-based Quadro at the moment) and Tesla business achieved record revenue.

As it can be observed, despite of shipping around 400 thousand premium GF100 graphics processors, the company did not see any tangible improvements either in profitability or margins. Obviously, Nvidia is losing chipset market share rapidly and throughout the whole Q1 FY2011 it probably has been losing share on the market of discrete graphics processors. As a result, the GF100 chip as well as increasing sales of high-margin Nvidia Quadro solutions helped Nvidia to offset declines in the core-logic and GPU businesses in terms of revenue, however, it does not look like the company managed to earn a lot more than in the previous quarter.