IntroductionĀ 

A few weeks prior to the launch on GeForce 7800 GTX, based on NVIDIA's latest G70 chip, NVIDIA held an "Editors Day" to introduce the press to the new architecture and capabilities. Whilst that the Editors Day we got the opportunity to sit down with NVIDIA's CEO and visionary, Jen-Hsun Huang and ask him a few questions...


Obviously NV40 was somewhat of a turning point for NVIDIA; what would you say were the most important aspects behind its success?

In a lot of ways I thought NV30 was a turning point, because NV3, NV4, NV5, NV10, NV11, NV15, NV17, NV18, NV20, NV25 was a straight line for us; we were on a path that was "make it faster, make it better". When it came to NV20, that was when we invented programmable shaders, which was a big, big chunk to swallow - we quickly realised that in building programmable shaders fixed point [integer], FX12 format, shading was limited in its capability and we needed to fundamentally take it to the next level and we took it to FP32 [32-bit floating point per component] with NV30 - that was a mistake for us. I would say that was a turning point in fact.

When you make a mistake that comes along after 5 or 6 years it really shakes you up and that causes you to make you think about what you need to do different. Obviously, all the things that we did before worked so well and then all of a sudden you make a chip that is expensive, very difficult to manufacture and frankly not fast enough, so we had to go back to basics and think about how we re-architect our company and the way we do things; remain as innovative as we always have been but innovate in a way that is much more aligned with industries. So that was actually the turning point, we started fixing ourselves right around NV30 and we quickly came back with NV35 and NV36 as a way to improve on that architecture because it usually takes a good two years to bring a new architecture to the market; so we fixed [GeForce] FX and then brought the 6800 [NV40] to market in about a 1 year timeframe, which was an amazing cycle time for us. So the changes that are seen on the outside of the company really started a good, solid year and a half before.

So, we have a few core values - we want to retain out spirit of innovation and always wanting to push the edge, wanting to do something better, that nobody's ever done before; on the other hand when we make mistakes we're intellectually honest about the mistakes, we face up to it and we quickly make changes. So, if you think about NV30 there were many things that we did right and there were many things that we did wrong and this triggered an avalanche of changes in the company and that's what got you 6800. On 6800 I would say that there were more things that we got right that were wrong, and with 7800 [G70] even more is right.

With the G70 graphics chip itself you've decided to use the 110nm process and with over 300 million transistors lends itself to a fairly large die size; what are the reasons for not going with 90nm at this point in time?

We thought 110nm was more effective to use as a volume manufacturing vehicle right now...

...even with that size of die?

Oh, yeah. Our customer don't care about size of die.

...but they will be concerned about the price...

My customers aren't concerned about my costs, but they are concerned about my price. I have to sell it too them at a price that makes sense, they care about power.

But 7800 has now firmly exceeded the perceived $499 price barrier...

I'm not even too sure there is a perceived barrier at $499. We need to price it at a level the enthusiasts will buy it at, that's the way that we think about pricing. We think about the pricing of this in the same way that Sony thinks about Playstation 3's - its not about how much is costs, its about what is the price it needs to sell at, and we need to figure out how to make money underneath that.