One of the reasons why Intel can even think about entering the GPU compute space is that the IT market, and indeed just about any market we can think of, likes to have at least three competitors. With capital intensive businesses, there is an inevitable consolidation, and sometimes only two companies can be supported.
Nvidia claims to have invented the modern Graphics Processing Unit, which is silly since dedicated graphics chips were in arcade games back in the 1970s and were in PCs in the 1980s, and culminating in the Texas Instruments TMS34010 graphics chip in 1986 and IBM 8514 graphics card in 1987 for IBM's own PS/2 systems and, interestingly enough, for clone machines. 2D graphics acceleration started with ATI Technologies in 1987, which spawned competitor S3 in 1991; 3D graphics acceleration - and the concentration of a tremendous amount of compute - started with S3 and ATI as well in 1995, but Nvidia was founded two years earlier to take them on because their cards lacked good performance and low cost according to company founders - Jensen Huang, Chris Malachowsky, and Curtis Priem. Nvidia absolutely embraced the idea of general purpose GPU compute as academics were hacking GPUs to offload parallel calculations from CPUs to the GPU shader engines, and it has unquestionably been the driving force in GPU compute in the datacenter.
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