Chips are yesterday’s news – here come the superchips

Image of the week: Chips are up

US tech giant Nvidia is both a) the third largest company in the world by market capitalisation and b) not quite a household name, though that might change if it eventually overtakes Microsoft and Apple in value and artificial intelligence (AI) becomes even harder to ignore than it is at present.

This was a big week for the maker of graphics processing units (GPUs), with its motorcycle jacket-wearing co-founder and chief executive Jensen Huang taking to the stage at the Nvidia GPU technology conference in San Jose, California – an event dubbed the “Woodstock festival of AI” by Bank of America analysts – to unveil a new “superchip”.

Huang is bidding for Nvidia to extend its dominance in the chips and superchips used by AI systems through a new processor design called Blackwell that is many times faster at handling the models that underpin AI. Named after the late US statistician and mathematician David Blackwell, they are expected to be the basis of new computers and other products deployed by the world’s largest operators of data centres, including Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

“We will realise the promise of AI for every industry,” Huang promised – or threatened, as the case may be.

In numbers: American Asbestos


Years since the use, marketing and sale of asbestos, which causes cancer, was banned in Ireland. Asbestos – the name for the group of naturally occurring, mechanically strong mineral fibres – was previously used in everything from insulation material to cement products and paint.


Years since the last legally permitted type of asbestos within the EU – “white” asbestos – became the subject of a complete bloc-wide ban, covering all uses. Five other types had been banned since 1991. Asbestos was first found to have negative health effects on humans in the, er, 1890s.


Year that the US Environmental Protection Agency announced a ban on white asbestos, which is linked to about 40,000 US deaths every year from lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers. It previously attempted to do so in 1989, only to have the move struck down by a federal court. Manufacturers will have up to 12 years to phase out use of the carcinogen.

Getting to know: Redbird IMI

Some alliances are more controversial than others. Redbird IMI is a joint venture between US private equity firm RedBirdCapital and International Media Investments, an Abu Dhabi-based firm backed by UAE vice-president Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, that has recently been spotted attempting to buy the Telegraph and the Spectator. This didn’t go down well in Westminster, with the UK government effectively blocking the transaction last week by proposing new laws to prevent foreign state ownership of British newspapers or news magazines.

Redbird IMI, which counts former CNN president Jeff Zucker as its chief executive, had been “excited by the opportunity”, but for Downing Street, it turned out to be one thing for Sheikh Mansour to own Manchester City FC and quite another to have a broadsheet daily under his control, so the deal is now toast. Redbird IMI, however, remains busy snapping up stakes in other, less sensitive media interests elsewhere.

The list: Unilever ice-creams

Consumer goods giant Unilever has announced plans to spin off its extensive ice-cream interests (with annual sales of €7.9 billion) into a separate company to create a “simpler, more focused and higher performing Unilever” as well as one less prone to melting. So, which freezer regulars does it make?

1. HB: Dating back to 1926, Unilever’s Irish ice-cream brand is part of its “Heartbrand” umbrella brand (in the UK, it’s Wall’s, in Italy, Algida, etc), though the “HB” doesn’t refer to “Heartbrand”, of course, but both to its founders, the Hughes Brothers, and their Rathfarnham farm, Hazelbrook.

2. Ben & Jerry’s: The “peace, love and ice-cream” brand, a 2000 acquisition that has its own independent board, tried to end the sale of Ben & Jerry’s in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 2022, prompting a legal skirmish with its parent company.

3. Calippo: This “lower calorie”, water-based ice lolly – one of the Heartbrand product lines – has not been involved in or taken a stance on any geopolitical conflicts at the time of writing.

4. Magnum: Unilever’s biggest ice-cream is billed as “the ultimate experience for pure pleasure seekers”, which does sound a bit like the company is daring you to have one.

5. Cornetto: “Just one Cornetto / Give it to me / Delicious ice-cream / Of Italy.” Yes, the coated waffle cones filled with delicious ice-cream are fine, but the earworm-deploying, decade-long advertising campaign was an absolute classic.


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