What’s up with… Nvidia, smartphones, Microsoft

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang delivers his opening keynote speech at Computex 2024 in Taiwan.

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang delivers his opening keynote speech at Computex 2024 in Taiwan.

  • Nvidia throws down AI roadmap gauntlet
  • The smartphone sector is back on the up, according to IDC
  • Microsoft to pump billions into Sweden 

In today’s industry news roundup: Nvidia CEO cements the AI chip vendor’s strong market position by announcing a range of developments at Computex; IDC reckons the smartphone sector is now back in growth mode after years of shrinking sales; Microsoft is ploughing billions into its datacentres in Sweden; and much more!

Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang upped the tech platform ante over the weekend when he outlined a broad range of developments at the AI chip giant, the most notable of which is the company’s plan to release new accelerated computing chips on an annual basis to support the growing use of AI applications. He announced in his opening keynote speech at the Computex trade show in Taiwan that the upcoming Blackwell product will be succeeded by the Rubin product. “Our company has a one-year rhythm. Our basic philosophy is very simple: Build the entire datacentre scale, disaggregate and sell… on a one-year rhythm, and push everything to technology limits,” stated Huang. That’s a cadence that others will struggle to keep pace with, noted tech sector investment analyst Richard Windsor in his latest Radio Free Mobile blog, in which he outlined Nvidia’s key developments, noting that after Blackwell becomes commercially available this year, 2025 will likely see the launch of Blackwell Ultra in 2025, Rubin in 2026 and Rubin Ultra in 2027. But Nvidia’s strong position is about much more than the graphics processing units (GPUs), the sales of which are currently driving massive revenue growth and enviable profits for Huang’s company. Windsor noted that “inter-chip communication is becoming a big issue as more and more chips all work together to train and execute larger and larger models.” Nvidia not only acquired Mellanox for $6.9bn in 2020 to get its hands on that company’s Infiniband technology to enable it to offer its own connectivity solution but also addressed demand for Ethernet-based connectivity products by announcing an “accelerated product release schedule” for its Spectrum-X Ethernet networking technology that can be used to connect GPUs. It noted that “CoreWeave, GMO Internet Group, Lambda, Scaleway, STPX Global and Yotta are among the first AI cloud service providers embracing Nvidia Spectrum-X to bring extreme networking performance to their AI infrastructures.” And then there’s the Cuda AI software stack, which is now being used by more than 5 million developers and that number is growing. “It is this, much more than its silicon offering, that cements its dominance of AI in my opinion,” noted Windsor. That dominance will last for some time if the use of Nvidia’s NIM microservices becomes just as popular. These microservices are “pre-trained models for specific tasks that Nvidia will offer as part of its toolkit for building multipurpose agents or systems that have specific capabilities,” noted Windsor. “Crucially, if these prove popular, NIMs take Nvidia’s stickiness up through the technology stack such that if developers are no longer using Cuda directly because they are developing directly on foundation models, they will still be demanding Nvidia silicon… Nvidia monetises AI by selling chips just like Apple monetises iOS by selling iPhones and iPads, which is why NIMs could be crucial to long-term revenues and margins,” added the analyst.

AMD, which also wants a slice of at AI-enabling tech pie, also had a keynote at Computex, which was used to unveil a new roadmap for its Instinct semiconductors that “will bring an annual cadence of leadership AI performance and memory capabilities at every generation,” the company noted in this announcement.  

Good news for the smartphone sector, as IDC expects global shipments to rise by 4% year on year in 2024 to 1.21 billion units. The recovery is expected to stem from a slow uptick in consumer demand following “the dismal past few years”. As per the research house’s latest estimations, the recovery trend is set to continue in 2025 with an expected growth of 2.3% year on year. “While the overall market will see a relatively strong recovery this year with 4% growth coming from almost all regions, it is important to note that the majority of the growth will be driven by Android, which is expected to grow significantly faster at 4.8% compared to 0.7% for iOS (Apple)”, explained Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s worldwide tracker team. Another finding from IDC suggests that 5G-powered smartphones are fuelling the market and are expected to mark an almost 16% year-on-year increase in 2024, with adoption expanding across all regions and markets. Double-digit growth in 5G handset sales is also expected to continue in 2025 (13.2%) with 5G market share reaching 74.4%, up from 67.2% for the current year. “While the overall smartphone market will have a 2.3% CAGR [compound annual growth rate] from 2024-28, 5G shipments will deliver an impressive 9.1% growth rate for the same time period,” said Anthony Scarsella, a research director with IDC’s mobile phone research team.

Microsoft is to invest SEK33.7bn (US$3.2bn) on cloud infrastructure and AI development in Sweden, the single biggest investment made by the tech giant in the Nordic country. The financial boost will be spread over two years with a focus on accelerating the introduction of AI, as well as expanding Microsoft’s cloud and AI infrastructure, including through the deployment of 20,000 of “the most advanced” graphics processing units (GPUs) in its existing datacentre regions across Sweden. In a translated statement, Microsoft cited figures suggesting that Sweden currently has the third-largest requirement in terms of AI skills demand globally, adding that its investment will help address this by funding the training of 250,000 people (or 2.4% of the Swedish population) with AI skills. According to the company’s vice chair and president, Brad Smith, the announcement is about more than just technology as it acts as “a commitment to ensure broad access to the tools and skills needed for Sweden’s population and economy to flourish in the AI ​​era.” In a sign that it is addressing the challenge of increased energy use, especially in datacentres, Microsoft confirmed that in collaboration with state-owned power company Vattenfall it is able to run its datacentre regions with 100% fossil-free energy, while water is used only for air humidification. The company also reiterated its commitment to beefing up AI adoption across the Nordic region beyond Sweden, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway.

With the €5bn sale of Vodafone Spain to Zegona now completed, the €8bn sale of Vodafone Italia agreed with Swisscom and the merger of Vodafone UK with Three underway (though under ongoing regulatory scrutiny), Vodafone Group CEO Margherita Della Valle has told The Sunday Times newspaper that that’s the end of the major M&A deals needed to reshape the telco and now her focus is on simplifying and improving the business. As we have previously reported, much of her attention will currently be on sorting out the business in Germany

Mavenir is claiming an Open RAN first following a demo staged with Echostar (the parent company of Open RAN-based 5G network operator Dish Wireless) and Qualcomm in the US. The vendor says the partners “successfully demonstrated the reduced capability (RedCap) 5G capabilities of its open virtualised radio access network (Open vRAN) solution on the Boost Mobile Network” and that the demo, which made use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X35 5G Modem-RF System, “marks the first validation of 3GPP RedCap 5G capabilities on an Open RAN network, indicating significant promise for existing and future 5G IoT [internet of things] and connected device use cases.” Read more

Telefónica Tech announced it has opened 10 specialised centres across Spain, Central Europe, Brazil and the Hispanoamérica region (Santiago de Chile and Mexico City) to beef up its enterprise services portfolio. The digital technology and services division of the Spanish telco giant noted in a statement that it currently employs more than 400 professionals dedicated to research, development and application of AI for public and private customers across various sectors, following a number of acquisitions by the company in recent years. According to the operator, its capabilities allow organisations to make data-driven decisions that can help them build more efficient and resilient businesses. “We have numerous technological solutions to optimise the processes of organisations based on artificial intelligence and the enormous potential it offers when combined with other technologies such as the internet of things, blockchain and cybersecurity. The global knowledge and experience of our teams is allowing us, for example, to help companies predict the demand for their products, automate processes, improve their decision-making and personalise their customers’ experience,” commented Elena Gil Lizasoain, director of the artificial intelligence and data business unit at Telefónica Tech. Find out more.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) streaming services sector is growing rapidly, according to research firm Omdia. The market grew by 13% to be worth more than $1bn in 2023 and is set to be worth $1.2bn this year. “Online video advertising presents the most significant growth opportunity, while MENA’s pay-TV expansion demonstrates how bundling can combat piracy,” noted Omdia in this press release

- The staff, TelecomTV

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