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The AI Arms Race Heats Up Ahead of Nvidia Earnings

Nvidia

Artificial intelligence (AI) is experiencing a gold rush, and Nvidia is at the center of it all.

As the chip maker prepares to report its earnings today, the AI landscape is buzzing with activity, from startups raising massive funding rounds to tech giants racing to integrate AI into their products and services.

“The robots are definitely here; we are now living in the age of artificial intelligence,” Anat Alon-Beck, a business law professor at the School of Law at Case Western Reserve University, told PYMNTS. She called Nvidia “the poster child of AI,” praising the company’s strong performance and future potential.

Alon-Beck expressed confidence in Nvidia’s prospects, saying, “Nvidia is a strong company, does amazingly, and I think has much more under its sleeves.” She also hinted at the company’s ongoing private engagements, suggesting that the public should “expect more to come from this company in the future.”

Data Startup Raises $1 Billion

One standout player in this AI frenzy is Scale AI, a data startup that recently raised a staggering $1 billion in a late-stage funding round led by Accel, with participation from Nvidia, Amazon and Meta. This investment doubled Scale AI’s valuation to nearly $14 billion in six months, underscoring the soaring demand for AI-related services.

So, what exactly does Scale AI do?

The company serves as a data foundry, providing vast amounts of accurately labeled data essential for training sophisticated AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Scale AI’s clientele includes tech giants like Microsoft, financial institutions like Morgan Stanley, and AI firms like OpenAI and Cohere. By helping these companies create and refine their data sets, Scale AI plays a crucial role in developing and advancing AI technologies.

As the AI arms race heats up, companies are scrambling to secure their piece of the pie. Nvidia, known for its powerful AI chips, is expected to report strong earnings today, driven by the surging demand for AI-related hardware and software. Other tech giants, such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon, are also heavily investing in AI.

The U.S. government has also noticed the AI boom and is actively forging partnerships with AI-focused companies. The White House has launched several initiatives to promote safe AI innovation, including the  DEF CON 31 red-teaming event last year, in which Scale AI participated.

Big Expectations for Nvidia

Investors and analysts are watching for Nvidia’s earnings call as a bellwether for the industry.

“Based on at-the-money options prices, NVDA’s anticipated post-announcement stock movement is nearly 8%,” Garrett DeSimone, head of quantitative research at OptionMetrics, an options data provider, told PYMNTS. “In other words, options investors expect a significant stock price jump of 8% in either direction.”

This expected move, slightly lower than the 9% implied move observed around Nvidia’s Q1 earnings, still signifies a significant market reaction to the company’s results. DeSimone noted that this heightened anticipation, a new feature of Nvidia’s earnings releases since the AI boom, has investors awaiting any developments that could impact the company’s stock price.

Nvidia Faces Growing Competition

Nvidia is facing a new challenge as some of its biggest customers, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft, are developing their own artificial intelligence (AI) chips that offer better power efficiency than Nvidia’s products. While these companies are unlikely to abandon Nvidia’s offerings completely, their push toward in-house solutions could erode the chip giant’s market share.

The trend toward custom AI chips has been driven by the increasing demand for more efficient and specialized hardware to support the rapidly growing field of AI and machine learning. By developing their own chips, tech giants aim to optimize performance and reduce costs associated with running AI workloads on their platforms.

However, Nvidia is one of many companies facing competition in the AI chip market. Rivals AMD and Intel are also making significant strides in developing their own AI-focused chips, further intensifying the battle for dominance in this lucrative sector.

On Tuesday (May 21), during its Build conference, Microsoft announced that it would start offering AMD’s MI300X chips to developers for training and deploying AI models. This move highlights the growing interest in alternative AI chip providers and the willingness of tech giants to explore options beyond Nvidia’s offerings.

Despite the potential threat posed by in-house AI chips and rising competition from AMD and Intel, Nvidia remains a crucial player in the AI hardware market. The company’s long-standing expertise and extensive software and developer tools ecosystem continue to make it an attractive choice for many businesses and researchers.

As the demand for AI technology continues to grow, the landscape of the AI chip market is likely to become increasingly competitive. While Nvidia may face challenges from its customers’ in-house developments and rival chip makers, the company’s strong position in the market and ongoing innovation efforts are expected to help it maintain a significant presence in the AI hardware space.