France poised to bring 'charges against Nvidia'

Euro nation's monopoly gendarmes cheesed off with GPU giant's dominance

French regulators are reportedly poised to bring charges against Nvidia over alleged anti-competitive practices.

Nvidia has become the foremost supplier of GPUs and high-speed networking required to build the training clusters necessary to develop and serve top-tier AI models. Some estimates put Nvidia's share of the AI infrastructure market at somewhere north of 80 percent — a fact that seems to have ruffled French antitrust cops' feathers.

The charges, first reported by Reuters, follow a September raid of Nvidia's French offices to gather evidence about the American GPU slinger. The raid is part of a broader investigation into the cloud computing sector which found some US companies may have hindered competition in the region.

It remains to be seen what, if any, charges French regulators will formally bring against Nvidia. However a report released by the country's competition watchdog last week specifically referenced Nvidia as potentially problematic. For instance, the regulator stated:

The Autorité found a number of potential risks, such as price fixing, production restrictions, unfair contractual conditions and discriminatory behaviour. Concern was also expressed regarding the sector’s dependence on Nvidia’s CUDA chip programming software (the only one that is 100% compatible with the GPUs that have become essential for accelerated computing). Recent announcements of Nvidia’s investments in AI-focused cloud service providers such as CoreWeave are also raising concerns.

The comments were part of a broader investigation into the competitive landscape of the generative AI companies in the country. Among the issues explored in the report are access to compute infrastructure, data, and talent, and it offered recommendations as to where to take the investigation next.

Nvidia declined to comment.

The French aren't the only ones looking into Nvidia's market dominance. The European Union is also said to be looking into the GPU vendor to determine whether corrective action is required. Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice is reportedly preparing a probe into whether Nvidia has crossed over into monopoly territory.

While Nvidia controls the lion's share of the AI infrastructure market today, it's facing some competition from rivals, most notably from AMD with its MI300-series GPUs and APUs, Intel with its Gaudi3 accelerators, and Cerebras with its waferscale training chips. ®

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