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Few industries are as hotly competitive as technology, but the companies that get it right can be portfolio cornerstones for years. Many investors have been watching chipmaker NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) , whether because of the company's market-leading graphics technology or its concerted push into mobile devices. NVIDIA's stock has yet to recover its pre-recession highs, but it could be ready for some real long-term growth today. With that in mind, I'd like to offer three reasons why NVIDIA might be a good addition to your portfolio.
1: Diverse products for users of all stripes
The best chipmakers don't rely on one product line. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) has a chokehold on desktop PCs, but it's also dominant in servers and laptops. NVIDIA's hung its hat on graphics processing for a long time, but now that it's moved into mobile, it's become a stronger company -- and its customer list keeps growing.
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) might have swiped at NVIDIA's Tegra 3 performance earlier this year, essentially denying it a coveted iSpot in its iStuff, but a number of tablets and smartphones already use Tegra 2 or Tegra 3 chips, and the list keeps growing. Microsoft's Surface will use NVIDIA's chip for its ARM Holdings variant. Google's entry-level Nexus 7 tablet also uses the Tegra 3. The Tegra is even being upgraded with 3G and 4G LTE functionality, putting it in direct competition with mobile-processing leader Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) , which has long offered integrated processors of this sort.
NVIDIA's PC graphics processors aren't dead, though, not by a long shot. NVIDIA keeps innovating, and it unveiled the world's fastest graphics card earlier this year. Graphics processing units, or GPUs, can supply computational power on par with or exceeding CPUs and are now being used to do the heavy lifting in some very involved scientific calculations.
2: Graphics in the cloud
NVIDIA recently presented a new cloud-based graphics technology that might make its processors the go-to gaming engines in all sorts of mobile devices, even those that don't use its chips. As Fool contributor Keki Fatakia put it: "graphics-heavy games and applications will always need GPUs. And NVIDIA's GPUs can be used in a desktop computer, a mobile device, or on a remote server, which should be a win-win-win situation for NVIDIA!"
What's more, the cloud-based graphics ought to be better than what most mobile users might otherwise have access to. Since the chips used for cloud-processed gaming are NVIDIA's high-end offerings, this will allow users to access the full range of gaming options while still maintaining its chip position in mobile devices. After all, no one will be gaming in the cloud all the time. They'll still need processing power for less demanding mobile functions.
3: Disruption in unexpected places
NVIDIA's Tegra 3 processor is a key component in millions of mobile devices, but that doesn't mean it's limited there. A recent Kickstarter campaign for Ouya, a low-end open-source gaming console, went viral and has already raised more than $5 million -- and the core of Ouya is a Tegra 3 processor. Ouya's current take is chump change for industry leader Microsoft, but keep in mind that the console will cost $99, less than many subsidized smartphones, and will allow game developers to publish without going through a gatekeeper.
This low-cost challenge raises a few interesting questions. If Ouya succeeds, what else might inventive hardware developers look to upend with a low-cost NVIDIA processor? NVIDIA already has a number of luxury automotive partners that use its chips to power in-car infotainment systems and driver-assistance systems. Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA ) , for example, has a supersized NVIDIA-powered touchscreen at the heart of its control scheme. When its list of partner names starts looking more like the lineup at your average used-car lot, the potential market will grow by orders of magnitude.
The Motley Fool thinks NVIDIA has such a bright future that we've named it the key company behind "The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution." Find out more about what makes NVIDIA a great buy -- get your copy of our highly sought-after free report now.
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