Nvidia's CEO unveils the next AI chip that tech companies will be scrambling for — meet 'Blackwell'

  • Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled its next-generation chip on Monday.

  • The Blackwell chip, named after the statistician David Blackwell, is much faster than its predecessor.

  • Huang said the chip would "realize the promise of AI for every industry."

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled the Blackwell chip — a next-generation artificial-intelligence chip succeeding the massively in-demand H100, which has served as a backbone of sorts amid an AI gold rush.

Huang said in his keynote at the GPU Technology Conference on Monday in San Jose, California, that the Blackwell chip, named after the statistician and mathematician David Blackwell, was at least twice as fast as its predecessor.

"It's now twice as fast as Hopper, but very importantly, it has computation in the network," Huang said, explaining that this would amplify its speed even further. He added that it would be able to do things such as turn speech into 3D video.

The chip is packed with 208 billion transistors — 128 billion more than the Hopper.

Compared with the Hopper, the Blackwell chip boasts five times the AI performance and reduces cost and energy consumption by up to 25 times, Nvidia says.

"There's no memory locality issues, no cache issues — it's just one giant chip," Huang said. "And so, when we were told that Blackwell's ambitions were beyond the limits of physics, the engineers said, 'So what?' And so this is what happened."

Huang didn't disclose the price of the chip, which the company says is the start of a "new era of computing," but he joked onstage that its functioning board was "quite expensive."

"Blackwell GPUs are the engine to power this new industrial revolution," he said. "Working with the most dynamic companies in the world, we will realize the promise of AI for every industry."

The current H100 chips can sell for upwards of $40,000 apiece. Amid shortages precipitated by supply issues during the pandemic, tech giants are scrambling to get their hands on them, with Mark Zuckerberg saying he'll have stockpiled about 350,000 by the end of the year.

As a result, Nvidia sales are soaring. In its fourth-quarter earnings call in February, Nvidia reported quarterly revenue of $22.1 billion. That said, the company has faced headwinds in China because of tough export controls. And other tech giants — including Meta, Microsoft, Google, and AMD — are readying rival chips as well.

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