Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has publicly declared during a talk at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) 2017 in Beijing. Moore’s Law has held firm since Gordon Moore first laid down his prediction in 1965, claiming that transistor density would double every two years. Not anymore, according to Huang, who’s already sounding the death knell by claiming GPUs will soon replace CPUs entirely.
Huang believes the CPU manufacturers are really beginning to struggle, and their inability to achieve the parallel-instruction architectures GPUs are capable of means GPUs will, sooner rather than later, replace CPUs as we know them. GPUs are much faster and they’re better suited to AI applications.
Huang’s comments certainly have a ring of truth to them. The likes of Intel and AMD continue to cram in more transistors, keeping pace with Moore’s Law, yet the actual outcome in performance in equatable to just 20% biennially. That’s just a fifth of what we expect should the targets of Moore’s Law be hit.
If this were to come about, it puts Nvidia in an immeasurably strong position. It’s already got a dominant grip on the GPU market, but this absolutely pales when stacked up against CPUs. While as gamers we absolutely required both, the vast majority of PCs come equipped with CPUs alone. For a little bit of perspective, Intel’s market cap is currently $176.35 billion, while Nvidia currently sits at $105.13 billion. If it could conceivably eventually eat into Intel’s share with GPUs alone, the potential ramifications for Nvidia’s business prospects are huge.
Naturally, Intel has suggested the complete opposite. Just over a week ago Stacy Smith, group president of manufacturing, operation and sales at Intel, got onstage in Beijing to say “Intel manufacturing processes advance according to Moore’s Law, delivering ever more functionality and performance, improved energy efficiency and lower cost-per-transistor with each generation.” Hmmm indeed.
One of these is right, and it’ll certainly be an interesting proposition if it’s Nvidia. The prospect of building a PC without a CPU is an odd one.