Nvidia chips away at Intel, AMD turf in supercomputers

The logo of technology company Nvidia is seen at its headquarters in Santa Clara, California, Feb 11, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

Nvidia Corp on Monday (May 22) said it has worked with the UK's University of Bristol to build a new supercomputer using a new Nvidia chip that would compete with Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Nvidia is the world's top maker of graphics processing units (GPUs), which are in high demand because they can be used to speed up artificial intelligence work. OpenAI's ChatGPT, for example, was created with thousands of Nvidia GPUs.

But Nvidia's GPU chips are typically paired with what is called a central processing unit (CPU), a market that has been dominated by Intel and AMD for decades. This year, Nvidia has started shipping its own competing CPU chip called Grace, which is based on technology from SoftBank Group Corp-owned Arm Ltd.

At a supercomputing conference in Germany on Monday, Nvidia said it has worked with British researchers and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co to build a computer called Isambard 3, which is based entirely on its Grace CPU chips and has none of Nvidia's GPUs. The University of Bristol system will be used for climate science and drug discovery research, among other things.

"What's exciting is the whole thing is operating on 270 kilowatts of power. That's actually six times more performance and energy efficiency than the university's previous system, Isambard 2," Ian Buck, general manager and vice president of accelerated computing at Nvidia, said during a press briefing.

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