(Ray) trace of pessimism —
Previous predictions had already been dire thanks to cryptocurrency crashes.
On Monday, Nvidia took the unusual step of offering a revised Q4 2019 financial estimate ahead of its scheduled disclosure on February 14. The reason: Nvidia had already predicted low revenue numbers, and the hardware producer is already confident that its low estimate was still too high.
The original quarterly revenue estimate of $2.7 billion has since dropped to $2.2 billion, a change of roughly 19 percent. A few new data points factor into that revision. The biggest consumer-facing issue, according to Nvidia, is “lower than expected” sales of its RTX line of new graphics cards. This series, full of proprietary technologies like a dedicated raytracing processor, kicked off in September 2018 with the $1,199 RTX 2080 Ti and the $799 RTX 2080.
“These products deliver a revolutionary leap in performance and innovation with real-time raytracing and AI, but some customers may have delayed their purchase while waiting for lower price points and further demonstrations of RTX technology in actual games,” Nvidia said in a statement. As of press time, only one retail game, Battlefield V, has tapped into the RTX-only raytracing system.
Nvidia’s work on server-side and datacenter technologies also appears to factor into the revised estimate. In a letter to shareholders, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang pointed to “economic uncertainties” and “a number of deals [that] did not close in the last month of the quarter” as driving factors for reduced estimates in a sector that he admits is already unpredictable by default. Huang cited a “sharply decelerating” global economy, particularly in China, as well.
These pitfalls came in addition to a factor that Nvidia had already recognized as a driver for reduced revenue: a dive in
and, thus, a plunge in sales from eager cryptocurrency miners. That “excess mid-range channel inventory” was in line with Nvidia’s expectations, the statement said.
Huang went so far as to call Q4 2019 “an extraordinary, unusually turbulent, and disappointing quarter,” though he did so after listing a number of initiatives that he believes will drive increased revenue going forward, including: the launch of the $349 RTX 2060 graphics card; a new wave of RTX-powered laptops, which combine the company’s increasingly mobile-friendly products with more RTX perks; and increased functionality for its datacenter products, including “deep learning inference, data analytics, and machine learning,” to satisfy more AI-hungry enterprise customers.
This revision comes ahead of consumer GPU rival AMD’s launch of the Radeon VII, a 7nm-process graphics card coming to stores on February 7 for $699.