Tomorrow Today: How Graphics Chip Giants Like Nvidia Sell the Future

Power is the future of business. Companies like Nvidia and AMD know this well. Today, central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs) are the blood pumping through your smartphones, computers, vehicle operating systems—even the city you live in.

As the world continues to reckon with the colossal ramifications of the global pandemic, people want more and more to believe that tomorrow has something better in store. For a blisteringly successful company like Nvidia, dreams of what comes next drive their brand’s marketing story. 

Headed to bigger and better things

Load up Nvidia’s website and you’re first greeted with the latest and greatest in their cutting-edge line of graphics cards: the RTX 3080 Ti. This obelisk of a GPU hovers gracefully before a glass pane and in a dark void, leaving ripples in the water below—a literal splash screen.

To say that demand for this and other cards in the RTX line have been high would be a woeful understatement. Folks are practically tripping over each other to buy Nvidia’s latest monster of a device.

Hat tip to the marketing minds at Nvidia for that one. 

Just a couple slides over from the image of the 3080 Ti we see a strikingly powerful, almost cosmic render of a person standing at the edge of some sort of building. Off in the distance, an RTX card towers over the stranded person surrounded by three obelisks, like Godzilla flanked by monstrous kaiju

The message inspires a ferocious call-to-action: you, the person, are here. You’re small. But the 3080 Ti over there? It’s from the future; it is the future. Grandiose, all-powerful; it commands your attention. Don’t get left behind. Go now.

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Power for the people

This visual approach to marketing makes sense for Nvidia. After all, they’re a company almost exclusively known for crafting state-of-the-art GPUs. In other words, they make the stuff in your phones and video games look good.

Nvidia knows they’re not merely selling power, but new power for you, the lay consumer.

For Nvidia’s direct competitor Advanced Micro Devices (or ‘AMD’), direct-to-consumer marketing is more complicated. The company is widely known both for their GPUs like the Radeon series and their Ryzen CPUs. They make great products which—even if in some ways inferior to the competition—are absolute powerhouses of silicon.

Still, in recent years, AMD hasn’t inspired quite the same level of fervor in consumers as Nvidia. 

See, AMD have for decades built up a reputation as the go-to shop for top businesses in the home gaming console space like Sony and Microsoft. Pop open that shiny new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X and you’ll find custom-built GPUs and CPUs—provided by none other than AMD.

Their marketing approach reflects this. Browse their site and you’ll spot the usual brand flashiness. But note the dropdown positioned top-center of the page which reads ‘Business Solutions’. That’s no accident. Business clients are more prioritized here than in the more consumer-focused site design by Nvidia. AMD are leaning into the down-to-brass-tacks direction much of their audience is already headed.

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Play without limits

Still, despite some differences in their business, both Nvidia and AMD are at the end of the day competitors, meaning there’s certainly overlap in their target audiences—in a word, gamers.

Nvidia and AMD’s respective marketing teams prominently feature sections dedicated to the tangible benefits their products will offer the new and upcoming games. This can be inspiring to prospective players and game developers looking to develop to Nvidia and AMD’s respective technological specifications.

The message becomes clear: the future isn’t just something to aspire to. It’s here, and it’s only getting better. Wanna fight robot dinosaurs at blisteringly high resolutions and frame rates? You can. Or how about just a quick skirmish with friends with cooler, bigger explosions than in the movies? Coming right up. Plus, there’s always new games to come, meaning you’re making a long-term investment in your gaming future.

Another lucrative marketing avenue where Nvidia and AMD tend to see eye-to-eye is in the ever-expanding blockchain market. It’s clear to see that cryptocurrency-mining is a huge driver of GPU sales, which in tandem with semiconductor shortages has severely impacted product availability.

Concerns over the environmental impact of crypto-mining notwithstanding, Nvidia and AMD through marketing are legitimizing this current reality of their business with dedicated web pages. This helps make their graphics cards more attractive to the large swaths of people heavily engaged in this speculative market space.

Nvidia and AMD are keenly aware of each other as they cross paths along the same road. Yet both believe they’re bringing consumers and businesses where they want to be: a faster-paced, more vivid future. Who will get there first remains to be seen.

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