LONDON – Nvidia Corp., best known as a supplier of graphics processor units (GPUs), has announced that it intends to build high-performance microprocessors for applications ranging from PCs and servers up to workstations and supercomputers. Nvidia (Santa Clara, Calif.) will base its designs on an architecture license from ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) in what is a full-frontal attack on the world's largest chip company, Intel Corp.
Nvidia has been a long-standing licensor of ARM intellectual property but has previously made use of individual core licenses. "Project Denver," as the latest initiative is known, features an Nvidia processor running the ARM instruction set, which will be integrated with an Nvidia GPU array.
This processor stems from a strategic partnership, also announced today, under which Nvidia has obtained rights to develop its own high performance CPU cores based on ARM's future processor architecture. In addition, Nvidia has licensed ARM's current top-of-the-range Cortex-A15 processor for its future-generation Tegra mobile processors.
The news comes as Microsoft has announced that the full Windows 8 operating system will run on the ARM architecture, thereby enabling vendors of non-x86 processors to enter the Windows PC market.
"ARM is the fastest-growing CPU architecture in history," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive officer of Nvidia, in a statement. "With Project Denver, we are designing a high-performing ARM CPU core in combination with our massively parallel GPU cores to create a new class of processor," he added.
Warren East, ARM chief executive officer said: "Nvidia is a key partner for ARM and this announcement shows the potential that partnership enables. With this architecture license, Nvidia will be at the forefront of next generation SoC design, enabling the Internet everywhere era to become a reality."
Poorly written attack piece on Nvidia. Instead of claiming Nvidia is attacking a market or making a full frontal attack on Intel, how about describing them rescuing a market from the Intel monopoly? How about instead of calling them a supplier you call them an innovator, designer, creator, and developer? The wording of the article and title are slanted against Nvidia. Since Google Chrome will run on ARM, your disjointed reference to Microsoft is misplaced. If Nvidia claimed they are developing an ARM processor specifically for Microsoft's vaporware, rather than Chrome, perhaps you should quote the reference.
nVidia is not the only one attacking this market. Marvell and Qualcomm, which had ARM architecture licenses long ago and well established CPU core development team, probably well under its way to crack open x86 dominant PC/laptop/server market. At end, i think the only winner is consumer.
I think Intel should consider licensing ARM architecture to implement ARM processor in its leading fab technology.
I think this, all of the other high-end ARM activity and the Intel Atom speak to the question of "when is 'it' good enough?"
Cars realistically don't need to travel any faster than about 80 miles per hour (here in the US, anyway). Cars can easily be built that go much faster, but an efficient engine that will propel its load at around 80 MPH is good enough for most users. Excess horsepower and torque is just a luxury needed by few. Specialized applications still require something different, but that doesn't change the "good enough for the masses" factor.
Average CPUs are probably at or past that point and lower-end CPUs like the Atom and newer ARMs are really close. The vast majority of users need security and desktop/web productivity applications. That being the case, we're about to see a much more distinct division in the CPU market.
We'll have Atom and ARM processors for typical productivity use, processors for server use and compute intensive processors for gaming and analysis. On the periphery of that set, we'll have embedded processors below and specialized number-crunching processors above.
A key requirement in the "good enough" segment will be the OS efficiency. I have a ten year-old Celeron laptop that originally came with Windows 98. Obviously, it won't run any of the newer Windows versions nor will it handle fully-loaded Linux distributions. However, it did quite well on Win 98 and is still serviceable with stripped down Linux.
If the OS vendors will keep their code light and efficient, the mass market will quickly open up to the ARM processor sand we'll have a competitive environment like we haven't seen in the CPU wars for many years.
Unfortunately, the prevailing trends of software development make "light and efficient" code rather unlikely. As the generation that was weaned on heavy use of type inference and generics has matured, the focus has shifted from performance to rapid development cycles and an attitude of "fast enough"; hence the explosion of fast and loose scripting languages such as Python and Ruby. They're not _bad_ languages per se, but we mustn't fool ourselves that we're anywhere near metal performance at that point.
In parallel, the expectations of the consumer have grown. It used to be "good enough" to have email, a single-window browser with linear history, and a CD Player app. Now, SD and HD video is the lion's share of network traffic, every new desktop is running composited on 3D surfaces, and people are discovering that they can _do_ more that just email and browse.
No, the revolution is now in scaling the parallelism and reprogramming decades of single-threaded habits. Next it will be in efficiency of power and materials (this parallelism has synergy with both). Then it will be durability and ubiquity. The next fifteen years are going to be awfully interesting.
(Please don't misunderstand; I feel your pain. Straight to my C bones.)
The ARM market is too fragmented. Too many cpu versions, too many vendors and too many peripheral/packaging options. I don't see Intel quaking in their boots just yet.
But, I would like to see Intel/AMD dropping their prices. Prices have remained the same for over a year. Seems AMD and Intel may have reached some sort of detante.
Hope Nvidia comes out with a 16 core server processor running at 4GHz+. Then we can talk.
Wouldn't it have been more interesting to tie this artcle to the one on Intel releasing multi-cores with INTEGRATED GRAPHICS. Where does Nvidia go when the Graphics are all done in the processor??
I think Jensen Huang reads his future accurately, if Intel bringingn the graphics on board, then Nvidia must bring the processor in as well to compete.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.