HPC Customers Are Waiting for Nvidia "Kepler" Processor - Company

Nvidia Remains Tight Lipped Over Kepler Launch Timeframe

by Anton Shilov
02/16/2012 | 10:07 PM

Nvidia Corp. said that the customers among high-performance computing (HPC) users are waiting eagerly for the next-generation code-named Kepler processors to upgrade their supercomputers or deploy new systems. Besides, the company confirmed, albeit indirectly, that the highly-anticipated Kepler graphics processing units will be available in the second quarter of calendar 2012, but did not elaborate.


"Our professional solutions business is expected to have another record year. Maximus enables us to sell more than one GPU on to a workstation, and new supercomputer centers around the world are anticipating the shipment of Kepler," Rob Csongor, vice president of investor relations at Nvidia, during the most recent conference call with financial analysts.

One of the main advantages of Kepler architecture for supercomputers is over two times higher double precision GFLOPS performance per watt compared to Fermi architecture that is in use today. Some of the technologies that Nvidia promised to introduce in Kepler and Maxwell (the architecture that will succeed Kepler) include virtual memory space (which will allow CPUs and GPUs to use the "unified" virtual memory), pre-emption, enhance the ability of GPU to autonomously process the data without the help of CPU and so on.

Although Nvidia started to ramp up manufacturing of chips that are based on Kepler architecture in calendar 2011, the company will only release actual products powered by those chips in March, April or even later. In fact, Nvidia's interim chief financial officer even implied that the next-gen products will be launched in the coming months, but did not directly state that Kepler will be available in the second quarter of first quarter of the company's fiscal 2013 (which ends in late April '12).

"Looking ahead, while we anticipate continued negative effects from the hard drive shortage, we believe gaming demand will continue to be robust, driven by the combination of our next-generation Kepler architecture and new hit games, such as Mass Effect 3 [due in March - X-bit labs] and Diablo III [due in Q2 2012 - X-bit labs], both highly anticipated PC games coming in early calendar year 2012," said Karen Burns, interim CFO of Nvidia.

The company remains cautious about its Q1 FY2013 results; for the quarter the company expects revenue between $900 million and $930 million, which is below $962 million in Q1 FY2012 (ended April 30, 2011). Perhaps, drop of revenue may signal extremely limited availability of Kepler in March-April timeframe, or Nvidia's decision to start mass roll-out of next-gen products in May, which will be calendar Q2, but will not belong to Q2 of Nvidia's FY2013.