In 2007, Nvidia quietly began work on Project Denver, starting a long hard climb toward being a supplier of general-purpose microprocessors. At CES in 2011 it revealed the goal of that program was to create a soup-to-nuts family of SoCs serving everything from laptops to supercomputers.
At its annual Graphics Technology Conference (GTC) here Tuesday (March 19) Nvidia revealed the first commercial chip it expects to emerge from that program. The chip, Parker, will arrive in 2015 packing a 2014 graphics core called Maxwell and a new 64-bit custom ARM core.
Details are still scarce, but what Nvidia did share shines just a little light on the microprocessor road map for the industry, enough to give me pause about the future of computing.
Nvidia’s next big move is Logan. This Tegra 5 SoC will put a Kepler-class Nvidia graphics processor in a chip aimed at smartphones and tablets. It will be the first ARM-based mobile SOC to support its Cuda software environment for running general purpose graphics (GPGPU) programs. Previously, Cuda worked in PCs and servers that used an x86 host.
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Nvidia chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang shows the road to Parker, the first Project Denver chip.
To some extent the part plays catch up with its competitors that already provide similar features using OpenCL, said Kevin Krewell, a principal analyst with The Linley Group (Mountain View, Calif.).
Nvidia demonstrated it already has Cuda running on a new board called Kayla that sports a Kepler graphics chip and Tegra 3 ARM processor. Krewell called Kayla “a science experiment and a software development platform” to seed programming work for Logan which will sample this year and be in production in 2014.
My feeling is that long term, Microsoft will become less and less relevant to anything. Look how they missed the boat on smartphones. Everyone is getting along just fine without them. They seem to be set to miss the boat on ARM servers as well, and I really don't think they will be missed there either.
"And we are still waiting to hear anything about Windows Server for ARM."
ARM servers are of most interest to big cloud data centers. Cloud infrastructure is largely open source and Linux based, and doesn't care about the architecture it runs on.
The success of ARM in the server space has very little to do with Windows Server.
Frankly, I don't now if the CUDA vs. OpenCL was answered at GTC this year. As GPGPU based computing is gaining prominence in CAE/CAD/EDA tools market, developers of simulation tools seemed to be left with a choice that nearly doubles their effort in code development.
Rick, regarding "...Google has been mum on any plans for Android in notebooks..." -there is Android's daddy on notebooks today...Linux! I am skeptical about Google taking on M'soft on OS's for notebooks, in light of Windows8's success(?) so far! If touch-based computing is the determining factor, it may very well be that Windows8 and beyond will prevail on notebooks (assuming that notebooks will exist in the future!).
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.