French monopoly cops raid Nvidia office in cloud probe

AI accelerator maker suspected of potential anti-competitive tricks

Updated Nvidia's office in France was raided this week as part of an investigation by that country's Competition Authority into the graphics card sector.

According to the Euro nation's media, on Tuesday French authorities conducted an unannounced visit and seizure operation on the chip giant's office to gather evidence on possible anti-competitive practices by the GPU slinger and others.

In a press release Wednesday, France's Competition Authority confirmed the early morning raid was authorized by a judge overseeing freedoms and detention, but said that it would not be disclosing the parties involved at this time. 

Authorities also noted that the search was part of a broader investigation into the cloud computing sector stemming from a June report on cloud rivalries, which found that Microsoft, Google, and Amazon were hindering competition in the region.

"At this stage, this intervention obviously does not prejudge the guilt of the company concerned by the alleged practices, which only an investigation into the merits will, if necessary, make it possible to establish," the machine-translated statement reads.

Nvidia declined to comment on this story.

The US giant is a leading producer of everyday and enterprise graphics cards used in a variety of applications ranging from gaming, high-end modeling and rendering, to artificial intelligence and high-performance computing.

Despite efforts by Intel, AMD, and others to catch up, Nvidia's GPUs have become the linchpin in many AI clusters. The rise of generative AI over the past year has driven explosive adoption of Nv's graphics cards, with cloud providers and hyperscalers deploying tens of thousands of the chip house's high-end GPUs to train and run AI models, such as OpenAI's GPT-4, Meta's LLama2, and Stability AI's Stable Diffusion.

These trends have sent Nvidia's revenues skyrocketing in recent quarters. In Q2 alone, the corp saw its net income surge 843 percent year over year to $6.2 billion on revenues of $13.5 billion.

The raid on Nvidia's offices comes the same week French cloud provider OVHcloud and telecom operator Iliad Group announced wide scale deployments of Nvidia's GPUs. In a release Tuesday Illiad revealed [PDF] it had purchased a DGX SuperPOD composed of 1,016 Nvidia GPUs spread across 127 servers to power its AI workloads. Meanwhile OVHcloud has rolled out cloud instances powered by Nvidia's A100, H100, L4, and L40S accelerators.

It's also worth noting that French supercomputing vendor Atos also makes use of Nvidia GPUs. For example, the manufacturer built Italy's Leonardo system, which holds the number four spot on the Top500 ranking of publicly known supercomputers, using a combination of Intel Xeons and Nvidia A100 GPUs. ®

Updated to add

Nvidia is reportedly the subject of a broader probe by the European Union into monopolistic behavior, stemming from the giant's success in the AI arena.

Citing persons familiar with the matter Bloomberg on Friday reported the EU was in the process of gathering information on the GPU market to determine whether corrective action may be required.

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