An analyst who follows the graphics-chip specialist Nvidia  (NVDA) - Get Report sees demand for its graphics-processing-units technology surging as medical workers battle the coronavirus.

Nvidia's share price at last check jumped 16% to $247.07 after Needham analyst Rajvindra Gill boosted his rating on the Santa Clara, Calif., company to buy from hold.

The analyst has a $270 target price on the shares.

The Needham analyst noted rising demand for Nvidia's graphics-processing units in light of the coronavirus pandemic. GPUs can reduce the time it takes to analyze a human genome, made up of three billion base pairs, "from days to hours," the analyst said.

Needham's Gill also contends the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic will also accelerate a shift to artificial intelligence, with Nvidia's GPUs promising to be a key element in powering this transition.

GPUs "for medical applications will ramp in light of the Covid-19 epidemic," Gill wrote.

The semiconductor giant also has a strong bottom line, with the Needham analyst citing its "superior balance sheets and robust cash flow." Nvidia has net cash of $8.9 billion, he wrote.

"During this uncertain time ... investors will flock to companies with superior balance sheets and robust free cash flow," Gill noted.

And the surge in the number of people working from home amid the spread of the deadly virus will also push up demand in another big sector for Nvidia: spending on new data centers, which is the chipmaker's "largest growth driver."

Data centers could account for as much as 31% of Nvidia's sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, according to the Needham analyst.