Monday, October 12, 2020

Chips: "One On One With Jensen Huang: Nvidia, The Platform Company" (NVDA)

 From The Next Platform, October 7:

While a lot of ideas are ancient, some are relatively new and can come from only a modern context. Platform is one such concept, and given what we care about here at The Next Platform, it bears some analysis as we consider the company the Jensen Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer at Nvidia, is building out from its GPU gaming roots.

It is also worth considering what a platform is and is not given the philosophical conversation about platforms that Huang had with us this week as the fall GTC 2020 conference is underway and everyone is pondering the possibilities behind the completed acquisitions of Mellanox in April (for $6.9 billion) and Cumulus Networks in May (for an undisclosed and much smaller amount) as well as the $40 billion mike drop deal to acquire Arm Holdings from SoftBank.

Spelling used to be so much more interesting than it is today, and the word was either platte fourme or plateforme in Middle French during the middle 1500s, as the Renaissance was in full swing, and a compound made of the two Old French words plat and forme. The former plat being familiar in the words plate and plateau and meaning “flat” and perhaps related to the Greek platys for “broad shouldered” from which Plato, the pupil of Socrates, gets his name. The latter half forme is a word of antiquity as well, appearing in Old French in the 1200s. Some believe it is a jumbled up cognate of the Greek morphe.

So, broad shouldered shape shifting – that sounds about right in the modern IT context.

In the early days, a platform was a structure raised above the ground that was level, and eventually in the 1800s, concurrent with the rise of railroads and their station platforms, it took on the political connotation it also has today.

In essence, a platform is a level playing field, either nature made or man made, on which you can build. And there is no better word to describe the aspirations of Huang and the team at Nvidia that will build its own style of platform, whether or not Nvidia succeeds in acquiring Arm Holdings. Huang said that explicitly in the lengthy conversation he had with us.

“Our company can realize all of our hopes and dreams without Arm,” Huang explains, calling it a once in a lifetime opportunity that SoftBank wanted to sell Arm Holdings where “it was like my mind exploded, it was so good” and that it took three decades to build Arm into what it is and that “this is a team that won’t get built again” if the deal doesn’t go through....