Tech war: China chip veteran says Nvidia is hard to replace in artificial intelligence, urges start-ups to catch up
- Nvidia supplies 95 per cent of general-purpose GPUs in AI training systems, said Lu Jianping of Shanghai-based chip rival Iluvatar Corex
- China’s GPU start-ups should focus on ‘versatility’ by supporting more algorithms to ensure the chips are supported by more systems, he said
Nvidia has a near monopoly on graphics processing units (GPUs) used to train artificial intelligence (AI), a chip expert at the country’s leading rival to the Californian tech giant said on Wednesday.
Lu Jianping, chief technology officer at Shanghai-based Iluvatar Corex, said Nvidia controls 95 per cent of the market for general-purpose GPUs used to train AI models. He made the comments during an online session organised by China’s ICwise, a consultancy focused on the country’s chip supply chain.
“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.
Lu said that he was unable to find any mature “rival products” 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.
Meanwhile, continued computation demand in China AI applications will give local start-ups an opportunity to grow, 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.
Nvidia said the US licensing requirement may result in sales losses of up to US$400 million in its third financial quarter, but the company is talking with Chinese clients about alternative products not included in export controls as replacements.