Nvidia is banking on sales of its nForce AMD Athlon-oriented chipset to provide a significant boost to its bottom line - the company reckons nForce sales will account of ten per cent of its revenues next year. Indeed, Nvidia doesn't appear to believe nForce will really take off until 2002, if comments made by the company's VP of investor relations, Michael Hara, interviewed by EBN, are anything to go by. Certainly Hara notes that full-scale nForce production won't happen until early 2002 - deliveries of the chipset are only just beginning and aren't expected to begin ramping up until mid-August.
Such a shallow ramp explains Nvidia's focus on the Athlon. Hara notes that there's no point rushing out Pentium 4 support since "AMD systems will take our full nForce production for the next year". That said, Nvidia is still talking to Intel about licensing the intellectual property it needs to hook up nForce to the P4.
The AMD comment is worth a closer look. Either Nvidia is expecting a massive take up of Athlon 4 systems over the next nine months or so - or it's playing it cautious with nForce production. Given the current depressed state of the PC market, the latter makes some sense. It allows Nvidia to gauge the market without over-exposing itself. Suggestions that nForce pricing will be significantly higher than other chipsets with integrated graphics imply Nvidia is simply dipping its toe in the water for now.
And don't forget broadly the same parts are going into the Xbox, and that is expected to drive up shipments in the run up to Christmas. Indeed, it will be interesting to learn just how nForce shipments split between Xbox and Athlon-based systems.