NVIDIA is certainly on the skids financially thanks to several different factors. The company is traditionally one of the most profitable in the GPU and chipset business and commonly turns in significantly improved profits each quarter.
That all changed in Q2 of fiscal 2009 when it announced a loss attributed in part to a massive one time charge relating to higher than normal failure rates of certain notebook GPUs it sold computer makers like HP and Dell.
In August, rumors started to circulate that NVIDIA would be leaving the chipset business. NVIDIA strongly denied these rumors and said that the reports were false. NVIDIA pointed to the fact that it held 60% of the chipset market for AMD platforms in Q2 2008, SLI was the preferred multi-GPU platform, and its 790i SLI chipset was preferred by editors worldwide as reasons the rumor were false.
Later in August, the announcement was made that NVIDIA would be enabling SLI on Intel's new X58 chipset without requiring the use of its nForce 200 chip. NVIDIA had previously not allowed anyone to enable SLI without including this chip in the design. This move has been seen by some as an indication that NVIDIA is softening its stance on requiring its chipsets as a possible set up for an exit of the chipset business -- without affecting its SLI market.
NVIDIA is unable to shake the rumors that it is leaving the chipset business. CNET News reports that the rumor has surfaced again. The rumor was churned by a Pacific Crest analyst who said, "our checks confirm" NVIDIA will be leaving the chipset business next year.
Further speculation has NVIDIA pre-announcing another loss for Q3 that ends in October. The report of additional losses would be no big surprise with the computer industry as a whole seeing significant revenue reductions due to the weak economy.
Alongside the rumor that NVIDIA would leave the chipset business, another rumor is propagating. The rumor has NVIDIA providing graphics chips for the MacBook systems expected to be announced on October 14. Reports claim that NVIDIA is showing internal prototypes of Mac systems running its GPUs. NVIDIA already provides the graphics chip in MacBook Pro systems, so it would not be that big a shock to find out this rumor is correct.
Adding more fuel to the rumor that NVIDIA will see continued reductions in profits is the prediction from Pacific Crest analysts that NVIDIA could see market losses in the notebook segment to Intel's Montevina integrated graphics processor.
CNET News reports that one of the signs that NVIDIA would be providing GPUs for Apple being pointed to is a simple graphic on the NVIDIA site that some see as a MacBook design possibility. It's easy enough to see a foreign maker of accessories for the iPod leaking Apple designs by unveiling cases too early, but it would be hard to see NVIDIA make that sort of mistake.
Odds are the image is nothing more than a stock graphic the NVIDIA web designer placed on the site. An even more likely scenario has Apple updating the NVIDIA GPUs used in its MacBook Pro notebooks.
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