PCR interviews NVIDIA’s EMEAI GeForce sales director Richard Lee on 10-Series, VR and what’s next

NVIDIA’s latest 10-series GeForce graphics cards have been making waves in the PC components sector this year, including the 1080, 1070 and the recently launched 1060.

PCR asks NVIDIA’s EMEAI GeForce sales director Richard Lee about the firm’s latest Pascal architecture and what NVIDIA partners can expect in the future.

The mid-range 6GB GeForce 1060 is faster than the 980, which launched as a high-end card in 2014. How have you managed to achieve this in just over a year?

Our revolutionary new Pascal architecture. We haven’t just seen a reduction to the latest 16nm FinFET manufacturing process, but also massive new architecture improvements coupled with better memory compression. 

All of these advancements are the result of over $2 billion investment in R&D and the very brightest engineering minds tirelessly working to shape the future of GPUs; Pascal is not only super-fast, but ultra-efficient, cool and quiet. 

What is your long-term vision and plan for the 10 series? Can you hint at what’s coming next?

Well, unfortunately we can’t talk about what’s coming but we recently launched the GeForce GTX 1060 which means there are ideal options from the high-end hardware enthusiast with the GeForce GTX 1080, through to the simply superb high end price performance of the GTX 1070 and now the GTX 1060. 

Our partners are creating an incredible array of different custom versions of the graphics cards, with huge warranty covered overclocks or super quiet coolers. 

We are hugely excited for what’s coming next so stay tuned for that.

How is virtual reality changing the industry? What is NVIDIA doing in this space that resellers and system integrators should be aware of?

VR is a great new pillar for industry growth and we are very excited about it. 

We’ve been working with developers and publishers for a long time and our VRWorks tools have been adopted across the industry. 

The two leading development engines – Unreal and Unity – both work seamlessly with VRWorks and we’ve also worked closely with Oculus, HTC, Valve and other HMD manufacturers and key ecosystem creators to offer the very best hardware base available in the industry. 

In the UK channel we have a full system integrator program with our GeForce GTX ‘VR Ready’ badge. This has enabled incredible VR Ready PCs across every price point, making it easy for consumers to ensure they are purchasing a PC that will play VR titles beautifully and as the developer intended. 

 “VR is a great new pillar for industry growth and we are very excited about it.”

What did you think of the announcements at Computex this year, specifically the MSI VR backpack and the ASUS Zenbo robot? How will products like that affect the market and how much of an opportunity is robotics for NVIDIA and its Jetson chip?

Innovation and creativity is great for our industry and it is ideal for the consumer to have this kind of choice. 

I don’t think there’s ever been such a great breadth of products in technology and it is very exciting for us to see what will come next. 

Our embedded business has been going from strength to strength – as seen by our latest results – and we’re firmly established with a variety of companies in the robotic space.

The tablet market has dipped in recent years. Are you concerned by this? Or has it not really affected sales of the Shield?

Let’s not forget that Shield isn’t just a tablet but a family of devices, our latest being the Shield Android TV set-
top box. 

Recently we saw the Shield ATV strongly featured in the Amazon Prime Day event and its consistent updates have firmly won its place as the most powerful set-top device available. 

The Shield Tablet has been named the best Android tablet by a variety of publications and GeForce Now is the premier cloud gaming service. 

We can’t wait to tell you more about where Shield is going next.

Tell us about NVIDIA’s developments in the mobile computing space – how important is the laptop market to you?

Vitally important. Many people are making the move to a laptop as their primary PC and we at NVIDIA are committed to making this as flawless as possible, by providing the same technological leadership on notebooks as we do on the desktop side. 

We had great success with our Maxwell architecture, with nearly all discrete GPU notebook designs being based on NVIDIA GeForce GPUs, and we are very excited to see how this part of the market develops. 

Imagine the impact of an architecture like Pascal…

What’s been your most popular product category of 2016 so far, in terms of UK sales? What’s performing well for you right now?

Well, for 2016, I think it is clear that the GeForce GTX 10 series has been the most popular – with the launch of GTX 1080, GTX 1070 and GTX 1060, the channel has a great choice across price points and of course there is more to come in the future.

With PC shipments falling 10 per cent in 2015, what are your thoughts on the current state of the computing market, and where NVIDIA fits into this?

Whereas overall PC shipments have indeed fallen slightly, the gaming and enthusiast market has never been stronger. This can be seen in the continued success of PC gaming – there are over 60 million active Steam users, more than both Xbox Live or PlayStation Network and these gamers don’t just play any one type of game: FPS, RTS, turn-based strategy, racing, simulation, indie and more. PC gaming really is the home of innovation. 

NVIDIA had record revenues in 2015 and we have been growing consistently, not just in gaming with GeForce GTX, but across all of our business units in varied fields such as Deep Learning, Autonomous Computing and Computer Aided Design. 

NVIDIA posted record revenues in 2015. Is this a peak, or are you expecting to generate even more throughout 2016?

The market we’re in is so exciting due to the constant innovation and the potential for growth that it offers. 

VR really is the ‘buzzword’ for 2016; for NVIDIA that means that we need to give gamers the best possible experience by providing more and more GPU power in order to hit fantastic frame rates and unrivalled quality. 

We recently launched the GeForce GTX 1060 that was lauded as an incredible VR gaming solution.

With how many column inches VR has been getting, people would be forgiven for thinking that’s where all innovation is, but we mustn’t forget other areas of gaming. 

Esports has simply outstripped all expectations of reach. 

You now have stadiums that are more accustomed to football supports being packed out with people eager to see the latest DOTA 2 or League of Legends teams

Professional gamers demand the highest frame rates and GeForce GTX delivers a seamless experience, together with our GeForce Experience suite, to automatically give games optimised settings for the very best experience on your PC. Of course, we shouldn’t forget the advancement of graphics in triple-A games.

Play a game like Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and then go and play the original Mirror’s Edge and it becomes an eye-opening experience, seeing exactly how far we have come as an industry. 

There are many gamers out there who have been enjoying games on GPUs such as the GeForce GTX 560 and GTX 660 that will now be looking to upgrade to the latest Pascal power.

Speaking of eSports, NVIDIA has dabbled in this sector with ESL and Vainglory sponsorships, but doesn’t have its own team. Tell us about your strategy here, what are your thoughts on this sector and what your plans are within eSports?

We are strongly invested in eSports and want to ensure that everyone, regardless of the team they support, know that their games play best on NVIDIA. 

A multitude of teams not only game on our GeForce GTX GPUs but also use our G SYNC-powered monitors. On the software side, use of NVIDIA ShadowPlay is becoming crucial in studying replays and honing skills. 

Our partnership with ESL is very strong and we look forward to many more competitive gaming tournaments in the future. 

“Esports has simply outstripped all expectations of reach.”

Your close rival AMD has been vocal and critical towards NVIDIA over the years, but Roy Taylor recently said AMD’s new just focus “is just about AMD”. Have you noticed a shift in your rival’s strategy? And will you miss the verbal sparring?

We’ve always concentrated on ourselves and that will never change. 

We are focused on creating the very best technologies for the PC and building the world’s most advanced GPU architectures. Pascal has been a result of massive R&D and we’re fully focused on 10-Series and our
associated technologies.

What’s next for NVIDIA, in terms of your product roadmap and anything else you’re focusing on over the next few years?

Pascal is our current focus, which we’ve already announced will be followed by our next generation architecture: Volta. I can’t say anything else for now.

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