Nvidia CEO Talks Fermi Shortages, But Feels Good

Last week Nvidia held an investor meeting where company CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took over the microphone to speak on several interesting points.

One obvious point was the launch and critical reception of the Fermi-based chips, the GeForce GTX 480 and GTX 470. Even casual onlookers will see that the first wave of GF100 GPUs is in short supply. While the first batch of retail cards will be hitting this week, they're still two weeks behind the media launch from March 26. The Nvidia CEO admitted that his company can't take manufacturing advances for granted.

"From a supply perspective, we wish we had more 40-nm capacity," Huang said, according to Venture Beat. "We are working with TSMC really closely. They are doing a fab job. Yields are improving. Capacities are improving. But we are finding it hard to keep up. Everyone is clamoring to have Fermis out the door. We are working really hard to get Fermis out the door."

Nvidia is now taking additional steps to ensure that such a lag will be avoided in the future by dedicating several engineers to manufacturing issues. The company hopes that this will help it ease through the next manufacturing transition that it expects to occur in 18 months.

Even with the problems at the 40nm process, the Nvidia wants to transition its full product line for the sake of higher margins – a positive aspect that comes with process shrinks. The company has a gross profit margin of around 30 percent for 55nm chips, while the 40nm products will result in a 40 percent profit margin.

Despite Nvidia's technical achievements, the GeForce GTX 480 and GTX 470 cards have been met with some less-than-stellar reviews, at least in light of AMD's success with its current ATI GPU offerings. According to Venture Beat, Huang blames some of the criticism on the fact that Nvidia didn't give reviewers enough time to evaluate the product.

Nevertheless, the CEO feels a lot better now that Fermi is out the door. "What’s different now is Fermi is in production," he said. "Two years ago, I was just fantasizing about it."

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • touchdowntexas13
    I really hope they are dedicating resources (ie some good engineers) to the manufacturing process. Nvidia can't be a big player in the desktop graphics sector if they can't efficiently produce their own hardware.

    For the consumer's sake, I hope Nvidia pulls through strong. Competition is key for us (the consumers). ATI has done a great job with their latest cards, but we need someone to challenge them and challenge them good.
  • Marco925
    You'd think after the 20000th Launch-shortage that they'd have learned by now.....
  • zoemayne
    only time will tell
  • HansVonOhain
    Cannot wait for 250 dollar 5850.
  • amabhy
    Sorry Nvidia, ATI beat you to this one and still is winning.
  • mister g
    Just wondering how their low-ends will look when they come out, seeing as they have problems with those I'm thinking >$100.
  • the_krasno
    nVidia can have the performance crown for all I care, all I want is bang for the buck and ATI provides it.
  • He's still a crappy CEO.
  • nforce4max
    As for fanboy rigs go I got all 3 of them that is right one ATI rig that a I use daily as a workstation while a Nvidia setup with dual 9800gt in sli on a xfx 780i. The third isn't what most expect its a 3DFX glide box with a voodoo5 5500 which is required if one wants to enjoy the classics of the 90s with out being in software mode.

    The song to be playing now about Fermi is Nearer My God To Thee. If Nvidia doesn't pull it around later this generation and next generation it will not be around for much longer before being bought up and operated by someone else.
  • The_Prophecy
    Eventually these shortages will drive to the AMD camp (for video cards only though, I'm still an Intel fan in the CPU arena).