Artificial intelligence (AI) gets a lot of attention these days. Some have predicted it could transform the job market in ways we can hardly imagine, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has warned it may bring about dangerous autonomous weapons, and PwC says it's the "biggest commercial opportunity in today's fast changing economy" which could add 14% to global GDP by 2030.
Tech investors looking for a way to benefit from all of this AI potential would be wise to consider adding chipmaker NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA -0.40%) to their list of stocks. While many companies are claiming to be in AI right now, NVIDIA is actually making hardware that's creating some of the most advanced AI technologies on the planet -- and the company is just getting started.
NVIDIA is an AI transportation leader
The most well-known aspect of NVIDIA's AI pursuits is probably its autonomous driving technologies. The company's Drive PX AI supercomputer is used in a growing number of semi-autonomous driving features offered by Audi, Mercedes, Toyota, and others.
NVIDIA's graphics processors allow vehicles to see the world around them by processing vast amounts of image data received by on-board cameras. The company is now on its third version of Drive PX, called Pegasus, which is more than 10 times faster than its predecessor and is specifically created to power Level 5 (fully autonomous) vehicles.
NVIDIA believes that AI vehicle tech is creating a total addressable market in driverless cars that will reach $8 billion by 2025. The company only has $142 million in sales from its automotive segment in fiscal second quarter 2018, so investors should know that while there's lots of potential for NVIDIA in this space it's not a core business yet.
Tech leaders look to NVIDIA for their hardware
One of the biggest AI opportunities for NVIDIA is through its graphics processing units (GPUs), which power AI cloud computing services for Microsoft, Amazon, and even Alphabet's (GOOG 1.12%) (GOOGL 1.07%) Google. All of these companies use NVIDIA's GPUs to allow developers and clients to access machine learning and deep learning services via their cloud services, and those markets are quickly expanding.
Just recently, Microsoft and Amazon teamed up to release their own machine learning tools for developers to take on Google. Meanwhile, Google has created its own processor, called the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), for some of its own AI. Google still utilizes NVIDIA's GPUs for its cloud services, and it's clear from all of this competition that AI will remain a focal point for these tech giants. The AI investments these companies are making for their cloud services are helping expand the cloud computing market from $260 billion this year to $440 billion by 2020 according to Gartner research.
That's good news for NVIDIA because it means that sales of GPUs are likely to grow as AI cloud computing services become more common.
NVIDIA's big AI picture
I've touched on two key AI opportunities for NVIDIA so far, but the company believes it has several others, including nascent markets like AI cities, that give it a total addressable market in AI of $40 billion.
|Technology||NVIDIA total addressable market|
|AI for high-performance computing (HPC)||$4 billion by 2020|
|Deep Learning training||$11 billion by 2020|
|Deep Learning inference||$15 billion by 2020|
|Autonomous cars||$8 billion by 2025|
|AI for cities||$2 billion by 2021|
Investors should know that NVIDIA doesn't break out its AI revenue specifically, mainly because it's the AI GPUs, which are sold across several of the company's business segments. As AI grows this could change, but it's safe to say that at this point AI is still a relatively small aspect of the company's top and bottom lines.
But NVIDIA's competition in the GPU space is limited, which makes it an intriguing prospect for artificial intelligence investors. Intel is making its way in the AI space as well, and Google could transition to its own TPUs in the future, but more and more companies are transitioning to GPUs for their AI needs, and they're choosing NVIDIA right now.
As NVIDIA continues to innovate, with new hardware like Pegasus, it's clear that the company should be able to maintain its lead in the artificial intelligence hardware market and bring big gains to investors at the same time.