If you are a gamer, you know very well what NVIDIA does: the development of Graphics Processing Units (GPU) that enable a high-quality 3D gaming experience, achieved through hardware incorporating a microchip dedicated exclusively to three-dimensional visualization.
However, this hardware, which significantly boosts the computational capacity of the systems it’s integrated into, is also being used for other applications such as data mining and artificial intelligence. At this stage of development, on February 15, 2023, NVIDIA quietly signed a significant agreement with the giant Microsoft that will likely mark a turning point in the future of the Metaverse.
But before delving into the implications of this pact, let’s take a closer look at the history of NVIDIA.
The trajectory of NVIDIA
NVIDIA Corporation was born in Silicon Valley back in 1993 with the signature of three partners: Jen-Hsun Huang (current CEO of the company), Chris Malachowsky, and Curtis Priem. Their first GPU was the NV1, launched in 1995, which turned out to be a commercial failure. However, the company didn’t give up and continued developing more powerful and efficient GPUs. The turning point came in 1999 when they released the GeForce 256, the first GPU that included hardware support for 3D graphics acceleration. This time, the GeForce 256 was a commercial success and helped NVIDIA become a leader in the market for these types of processors.
In 2006, the company shifted towards other markets related to scientific applications: they first launched the Tesla, the first GPU designed specifically for scientific computing. In 2012, they introduced the GeForce GTX 690, the first card to include hardware support for machine learning acceleration. Thus, without big headlines but with constant work and a visionary spirit, NVIDIA became a front-runner in the machine learning market.
Today, NVIDIA has become (with the permission of Apple and its M2 chips) the most important company in the GPU market. The company has developed a wide range of products, including GPUs for gaming, scientific computing, 3D rendering, and machine learning. But it doesn’t end there – NVIDIA has also positioned itself in the autonomous vehicle market, where its GPUs are used for the artificial vision systems of cars.
What is Omniverse?
But hardware is not NVIDIA’s only strength. In silence, the Californian company has developed software with multiple programming modules called “Omniverse.” It is an impressive software that has revolutionized the way industry professionals work and collaborate on 3D design, simulation, and visualization projects. By combining technologies such as real-time rendering, precise physics, and artificial intelligence, Omniverse offers a highly immersive and scalable virtual environment that enables efficient creation, exploration, and sharing of content. Additionally, Omniverse provides powerful rendering capabilities, allowing for photorealistic representation and high-quality real-time visual experiences.
With Omniverse, it is possible to import and combine data from the most popular software in the market: Unreal, Unity, Maya, Microstation, Blender, Photoshop, Substance Painter, or SideFX Houdini, among others. This eliminates, among other things, the barrier of future standards that will regulate the Metaverse. Omniverse can handle it all…
And… what about the Metaverse?
We were all thinking about Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, how we would have fun and socialize in a virtual world, buying digital lands and NFTs, and eagerly waiting for some fantastic wearables to show off there. Then, in November 2022, a cold shower came: ChatGPT with its almost perfect natural language, emerged as the disruptive novelty, leaving the Metaverse quite shaken… But the Metaverse wasn’t dead, at least not the one NVIDIA was silently building: their Omniverse, additionally partnered with Microsoft and its powerful cloud.
What is clear is that the business of the Metaverse has taken a Copernican turn. The Microsoft and NVIDIA partnership will enable the connection of our Office 365 with ChatGPT and Omniverse applications, turning what was once a gaming engine into a powerful simulator that will save not only money but also environmental consequences. Processes will be optimized before being implemented, thanks to these potent multi-user and multi-platform computing tools.
But there’s even more. The alliance of these two giants will see Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure, hosting NVIDIA’s full software suite to build and operate hyper-realistic virtual worlds. It offers a supercomputing service for artificial intelligence that allows instant access to the infrastructure and software needed to train advanced generative AI models. In other words, the big siblings of ChatGPT will far exceed the surprise of natural language programming.
The Industrial Metaverse
As an example of these capabilities, let’s take BMW and its vehicle factories. The BMW Group has positioned itself at the forefront of a new key trend in manufacturing: creating digital twins of its factories to optimize designs, robotics systems, and logistics years before actual production begins. To achieve this, they are using NVIDIA’s software.
A perfect illustration of this is seen in the electric vehicle plant in Debrecen, Hungary, scheduled to commence operations in 2025. With Omniverse, BMW’s team integrates data into massive and high-performance models, connects their software tools, and enables real-time collaboration among multiple users in different locations, streamlining the processes. Moreover, all of this is possible from anywhere and on any device. This is the prototype of the NVIDIA and Microsoft Metaverse: the Industrial Metaverse.
If you want to try this powerful tool, all you need is a computer with a decent NVIDIA graphics card (like the RTX 3070, for example) and internet access. NVIDIA offers its software for free to individual users and also provides a series of online courses, many of which are free, and others come with a certification of proficiency, so you can explore the full capabilities of Omniverse. All of this can be found at nvidia.com.
Much ado about nothing. Fanfare for Zuckerberg’s Metaverse while AI takes center stage. Meanwhile, NVIDIA’s ant continues its steady and sure path, quietly forming an alliance with one of the giants to achieve its goals. The future is uncertain, but the way things are shaping up, I would bet that NVIDIA and Microsoft will come out on top with this Omniverse, at least in the near future.