Nvidia unveils virtual graphics server in push beyond PCs

SAN JOSE, California Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:02am IST

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SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) - Nvidia (NVDA.O) unveiled a server product on Tuesday that allows people to work on graphics-intensive tasks by connecting through low-end computers, the chipmaker's latest move to stake out new markets as its traditional PC market loses steam.

With consumers increasingly choosing tablets and smartphones over PCs, Nvidia has been looking for places to apply its graphics chip expertise, including enterprise computing, mobile devices and hand-held game devices.

Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang said the new product, called the GRID Virtual Computing Appliance, would give workers at small- and medium-sized companies access to sophisticated graphics computing power for tasks like image processing without providing each employee with a top-tier PC.

"It's as if you have your own virtual high-end PC under your desk," Huang said during a presentation at an industry event in San Jose, California.

The product is made up of a server rack filled with Intel (INTC.O) Xeon central processors, memory chips and several of Nvidia's high-end graphics processors.

It is aimed at companies with limited IT infrastructure and will be priced starting at $24,900, plus $2,400 a year for a license.

Nvidia is partnering with enterprise technology companies like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N), IBM (IBM.N) and Dell DELL.O to sell a more sophisticated virtual graphics product for larger companies.

Nvidia has met some success with its Tegra mobile chips in tablets, but the company, best-known for its high-end PC graphics chips used by gamers, faces stiff competition from Qualcomm (QCOM.O).

The graphics server products unveiled on Tuesday follow other recently announced ventures by Nvidia beyond PCs and tablets.

In January, Nvidia said it was launching a cloud server and software product called the Nvidia Grid, designed to remotely handle graphics computations for video games instead of on consoles like the Xbox in game-players' living rooms.

Nvidia also plans in the second quarter to start shipping a new hand-held gaming device with its upcoming Tegra 4 processor and a built-in screen. The device, referred to as Project Shield, runs Android games currently found on smartphones and tablets and can also stream video games from PCs.

The company has also been promoting its graphics chips to be used in supercomputers for tasks they specifically excel at, like climate prediction, physics simulations and oil exploration.

Nvidia's stock closed down 0.6 percent at $12.47. (Reporting By Noel Randewich; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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