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Nvidia Is 'Slowly Becoming the IBM of the AI Era,' According to the Leader of a $2 Billion AI Startup Jim Keller, a former engineer at Apple and Tesla, compared Nvidia's AI chips to IBM's dominance over PCs in the 1980s.

By Sherin Shibu Edited by Melissa Malamut

Key Takeaways

  • Jim Keller, a former lead engineer at Apple and Tesla, spoke on the DemystifySci podcast this week about Nvidia.
  • Keller, who is now leading an AI chip startup himself, said that Nvidia currently sells "the best processors by functionality" and highlighted how big tech companies are vying for Nvidia chips.

Jim Keller, an engineer who has worked at AMD, Apple, and Tesla and is now CEO of an AI chip startup taking on Nvidia, says that Nvidia is "becoming the IBM of the AI era."

On a Sunday podcast episode of DemystifySci, Keller brought up Nvidia's AI chips and called attention to companies like Microsoft and Google that are using Nvidia's technology to power their own innovations.

"All the big tech companies are in an arms race and they're all calling Nvidia," Keller said.

Related: Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang Turned Down a Merger Offer in the Company's Early Days, According to Insiders. Here's Why.

Keller, who now leads the $2 billion AI chip startup Tenstorrent, which has funding from Samsung and Hyundai, stated that Nvidia currently has "the best processors by functionality."

He then said that Nvidia is "slowly becoming the IBM of the AI era," adding, "We'll see how that goes. I run an AI tech company so I have opinions about that too."

Jim Keller, chief executive officer of Tenstorrent. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nvidia is now the industry leader for AI chips, with over 80% of the market share. It benefits from a first-mover advantage in AI computing; Nvidia claims to have started investing in AI and machine learning development starting in 2006.

Related: Employees Who Worked at This Company for the Past 5 Years Are Now Multi-Millionaires in 'Semi-Retirement'

IBM, too, could be considered a first mover in the PC market. Though IBM did not invent the PC, the company's 1981 personal desktop opened computers up to a broader audience and generated $1 billion in revenue in its first year.

IBM "set a technology standard" with its first PC, according to IEEE Spectrum.

Keller has previously weighed in on the cost of AI chips, both from Nvidia and from ChatGPT-maker OpenAI, which currently uses Nvidia's chips. He claimed in April that Nvidia could have cut research and development costs and in February that he could build AI processors for all workloads and AI companies at one-eighth of the cost suggested by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said in March that its next-generation AI chip would cost more than $30,000.

Related: Here's How Much Investing $10,000 in Nvidia When It Went Public Would Be Worth Now

Sherin Shibu

Entrepreneur Staff

News Reporter

Sherin Shibu is a business news reporter at Entrepreneur.com. She previously worked for PCMag, Business Insider, The Messenger, and ZDNET as a reporter and copyeditor. Her areas of coverage encompass tech, business, strategy, finance, and even space. She is a Columbia University graduate.

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