Crypto has become 'very important' market for Nvidia, CEO tells investors

Key Points
  • It's the first time in at least the past year that Nvidia executives have discussed digital currencies on an earnings call.
  • Nvidia's report comes after Asus published product information for an Nvidia-based mining GPU on its website.
Nvidia co-founder and CEO Jensen Huang attends an event during the annual Computex computer exhibition in Taipei, Taiwan May 30, 2017.
Tyrone Siu | Reuters

Nvidia is telling its investors that cryptocurrencies are no longer just a niche business.

In the company's earnings call on Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress said that demand for cryptocurrencies like ethereum helped Nvidia beat its own guidance for the most recent quarter.

Crypto is "a very important market that will likely continue to grow over time," Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said on the call.

Nvidia offers a type of graphics processing unit that's optimized for virtual coin mining, Huang said. CNBC reported in June that an Nvidia-based mining GPU had been listed on Asus's website, but Nvidia had not previously announced the card.

"In June we began enabling our AICs to produce a mining-only card using our P106-100 GPU," an Nvidia spokesman told CNBC in an email. "This GPU is configured for crypto mining and cannot be used for gaming. We provided it to several board partners including ASUS, EVGA, Colorful, Galaxy, Gigabyte, Palit, PCP and MSI." Nvidia itself is not offering GPUs for mining, the spokesman wrote.

Fellow GPU maker AMD has also seen increased demand for digital currency mining.

"It is very clear that new currencies will come to market, and it's very clear that the GPU is just fantastic at cryptography," Huang said. "The only thing we can probably expect is there will be more currencies to come. It will come in a whole lot of different nations, it will emerge from time to time, and the GPU is really quite great for it."

Despite the surging interest in cryptocurrencies in 2017 and the rally in prices of ethereum and bitcoin, Nvidia representatives had not discussed the topic on an earning call in at least the past year. Artificial intelligence and automotive applications have been more popular areas of focus.

Even with rising demand for GPUs, Nvidia shares fell as much as 8 percent following Thursday's report, as data center revenue trailed analysts' estimates.