Nvidia had a tough fourth quarter in 2018, but Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang is optimistic that growth will return to his business in 2019. He believes he has a great opportunity to grow PC laptop gaming thanks to the launch of mid-range Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics cards.
In the previous quarter ended January 27, Nvidia was hamstrung. It couldn’t launch its new 2060 cards because the market was stuffed with excess inventory, since cryptocurrency miners stopped buying graphics cards after the collapse of the crypto bubble. But now Huang said the company has worked off that inventory.
This year, Huang expects 40 laptops to debut with the 2060 graphics, and Nvidia will fill out the rest of the product line with the Turing-based technology, which features better battery life, faster processing, and something called real-time ray tracing. The latter enables realistic shadows and lighting that is closer to movie-like effects, and it also enables dubbed deep learning super sampling (DLSS), enables higher resolution graphics using artificial intelligence.
I talked with Huang this week after the company reported its earnings on Thursday. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: Happy Valentines Day.
Jensen Huang: Lots of love back at ya.
GamesBeat: I understood how the quarter went. I did want to get a feel for how you think gaming might go in the next year, and whether we might see some disruptions coming related to things like cloud gaming or just new game consoles coming.
Huang: I think it’s going to be a good year for gaming. I think that people are going to get super excited about RTX. They’re getting more and more excited every day. We’ve now launched our mainstream products. The reception is great. But I’m super excited about gaming notebooks. Most people today either get a notebook that’s thin or a notebook that’s too big that they can use for gaming. Finally, with Max-Q and Turing, you can combine the two and have a great notebook that’s beautiful as well as a great gaming machine.
Our business in gaming grew 50 percent year over year last year for notebooks. This year, I said we announced 40 new gaming laptops, twice as many as this time last year. This is going to be a great gaming laptop year.
GamesBeat: What we have for sure here and now is RTX. Is it too early to start talking about other things that may happen?
Huang: Yeah. We still have a long year ahead of us. There’s all kinds of exciting stuff to come.
GamesBeat: As far as how much of the gaming impact may have come from whether you had enough content ready for RTX, do you think that was a factor here in how gaming performed during the quarter?
Huang: The biggest factors are–when we first announced Turing, we only had the highest-end SKUs. The pricing–between that and the special editions and the overclocked editions, very few products were available in the marketplace at MSRP. We now have MSRP for every single product, from 2060 to 2070 to 2080 to 2080Ti. We have MSRP products for everyone to buy. It’s the highest performance at every price point.
The biggest issue in the beginning was just an awkward launch. We couldn’t launch 2060 for many months, for a quarter and a half, simply because of the amount of channel inventory that was already out there. We’re free of that now. We’re racing ahead. Then we get the bonus. The real kicker for Turing is ray tracing and DLSS, all the AI image processing we do. I hope you’ve tried it. I think it’s fantastic and it’s going to get even better.
GamesBeat: Well, I just got Metro: Exodus. I came back from the DICE Summit in Vegas and so I get to play some Metro: Exodus now.
Huang: I love that you’re a gamer.
GamesBeat: The data center–it sounded like for something like Google and the cloud gaming effort, AMD was going to get into some data centers. I heard people asking about that on the call. Is that still not a concern to you? They did have one specific announcement, that they’d won something (from Google).
Huang: I don’t know very much about it. The thing I can tell you is–you know I’ve been working on cloud gaming for a long time. We have our very specific strategies in GeForce Now. It’s just going to take a long time. Consider how long it took Netflix to get off the ground, and this is much, much harder than streaming video. It’s going to take some time. I’m a big fan of it. We’ve been piloting GeForce Now for a long time. As long as we’ve been piloting it, our performance is fantastic. But you notice no impact on the marketplace.
In the final analysis, what’s likely to happen is that we’re able to expand the market with cloud gaming. Hopefully people will be able to enjoy cloud gaming wherever they happen to be. Maybe we can bring great games to Chromebooks and Macs and things like that.
GamesBeat: Does the launch of Apex Legends say anything to you, or illustrate something related to hardware? 25 million in a week is pretty spectacular.
Huang: It is pretty spectacular. I can’t help but think that Apex Legends is going to make a difference in sales. I’m super excited for them, and I’m super happy for EA.