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Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM

1/6/2011 12:44 PM EST
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SallyF
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
SallyF   1/6/2011 3:50:44 PM
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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.

mcgrathdylan
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mcgrathdylan   1/6/2011 5:00:02 PM
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@SallyF- I must respectfully disagree with your assessment that this article is an attack on Nvidia, or poorly written. I see nothing wrong with calling Nvidia a supplier.

luting
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
luting   1/6/2011 4:22:32 PM
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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.

garydpdx
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garydpdx   3/9/2011 3:18:28 AM
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Actually, Intel once had an ARM architecture license as part of their purchase of DEC's processor assets. That was sold off to Marvell.

Duane Benson
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Duane Benson   1/6/2011 4:46:08 PM
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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.

Wyatt
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Wyatt   1/6/2011 6:54:37 PM
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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.)

luting
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luting   1/7/2011 1:54:28 PM
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From recent benchmark, Cortex-A9 is actually faster than Intel Atom processor.

rick merritt
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
rick merritt   1/6/2011 5:54:07 PM
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The x86 duopoly in which Intel had an 80+% share, may soon shift to a PC processor duopoly in which Intel has --perhaps-- a 50% stake--and faces not one but a half dozen major competitors.

Mxv
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Mxv   1/6/2011 9:22:38 PM
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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.

luting
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
luting   1/7/2011 2:24:15 PM
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Both Intel and AMD produced many different versions of x86 chip with different packages and configuration over years. I don't see any issues for Windows to support that. If you look Windows 8 news, it is going to support ARM based SoC from Qualcomm/nVidia/TI at the same time. Although all three chips have same ARM core(Qualcomm uses its own core based on ARM architecture), other peripherals devices are vastly different. Open source Linux has been supporting many different flavors of SoC now.

Sheetal.Pandey
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
Sheetal.Pandey   1/6/2011 9:22:45 PM
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Is Intel seeing a competetion???

dirk.bruere
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
dirk.bruere   1/6/2011 9:32:39 PM
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Interesting times, esp since the single core 2GHz Cortex A15 allegedly has a performance comparable to Intel Xeon running at 3GHz. And ARM intend to supply up to 16 core devices.

luting
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luting   1/7/2011 1:57:55 PM
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A15 has four cores per clusters but it is newly ACE AMBA4 bridge could only support two clusters now. That limits maximum 8 cores unless you don't care cache coherence or develop your own ACE AMBA4 bridge. But it is no doubt that A15 targets at server market.

boulder_engineer
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boulder_engineer   1/6/2011 9:35:30 PM
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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.

Etmax
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Etmax   1/6/2011 11:17:04 PM
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Slightly off topic, but central to the whole CPU upgrade issue: I have an I7 (4 x dual core) 3GHz PC running WinXP and it takes about 3-4 minutes before it has fully booted. The same PC boots in around 2 minutes with Ubuntu 8.04. I also have an Amiga 4000 with a 28MHz 68040 (single core) that runs Amiga OS and boots in about 38 seconds. In opening word processing documents and web browsing and many other common tasks it is as fast as the Wintel machine. Obviously CAD is a different issue. Both systems are running multi tasking OS's but there is a dramatic contrast in USABLE performance there. Of course the Amiga OS is much simpler, but the point I'm making is that the OS is now at a point where it is an encumbrance, requiring say 1000 times processor improvement to achieve the same average user experience. Now obviously I've taken a bit of artistic license here, but the general gist holds true, i.e. my Wintel box should be booting in under 10 seconds and not sometimes take 10 seconds to open an explorer window. Win-X and Linux and a lot of application developers have failed the user, because to halve their development time they have quadrupled the time the user spends (or would have needed to spend) while dramatically increasing the necessary cost (based on what a simpler machine would now cost) both to the users and the environment. My Wintel PC consumes some 90W (in a cu.ft of space) and the Amiga around 20W, but as it could probably be put in an ASIC and only consume 10W (in a few cu. Inches), you see where my environmental cost lies.

eewiz
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eewiz   1/7/2011 6:34:41 AM
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My Windows PC boots in around 2 mins. There are lot of things you can do with the bios/startup to speed/slow down your pc. For starters dump the XP and get a Win7. XP was released in 2001 IIRC and it cant even make use of all the cores in your i7 CPU.

Etmax
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Etmax   1/7/2011 6:59:23 AM
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Hmm is that 2 minutes from login to desktop visible, or 2 minutes from login to CPU activity more than 2%? The latter is real boot time, the former is an MS method to make people think the boot was faster than previous incarnations. Mine takes 2 minutes by the former (same as yours), but 3-4 by the latter. Still much slower than the 28MHz 68040. The only real difference is retargetable graphics and MMU support, but that can't explain the difference. Sloppy programming is more likely.

luting
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
luting   1/7/2011 2:28:41 PM
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That is because OS was developed by SW engineers, not HW engineers. There are lots lots of resource wasting in boot process. I hope one day some talent hardware engineers could come up a OS which could have boot time measured in ms not minutes. :-)

webmasterpdx
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webmasterpdx   1/7/2011 3:33:13 AM
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Intel has an ARM license (the XScale was a big seller just a few years ago). In fact, that was the fastest and lowest power ARM chip for quite a while. The problem is that I'm not sure if Intel wants to get into the $1 core market (they are used to the $20 core market). Currently you can get small ARM chips for under $3! It'll be interesting to see how this market changes. NVIDIA with CUDA parallel cores could bring the desktop into the supercomputer market as long as they stay away from Microsoft and work with a linux OS running an L4 microkernel with built-in real time capability. That would be a heck of a fast PC. I sure hope they make Linux their "main" OS. This could open up a new era in desktop computing with AI, speech recognition and natural language understanding....the truly intelligent computer. Another processor I wish people would use more is the MIPS architecture. It is easier to get to run faster than ARM and faster than the x86 processors, and I think there is an architecture with a 128-bit word.....better suited for a desktop architecture. But these are just my preferences....time will tell....

Neo10
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Neo10   1/7/2011 4:40:56 AM
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This is an opportunity that the Silicon companies out there should be exploiting. We should be moving away from Windows as we know it and popularise the Linux fofr desktops as Android has starting doing it in mobile space. Silly they still hanker after Windows, after all the problems it loads in its innards. Patch galore and bloated code has been the hallmark of Windows OS so far. At least lets hope the Windows8 is leaner and faster. ARM architecture is now at the threshold of breaking into the big league and who knows the next generation of us will have better choices and not end up paying our $$ for a lot of heat and buggy software.

eewiz
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
eewiz   1/7/2011 7:07:58 AM
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A deep stab at the heart of Intel. :) With Win 8 officially announced to run on ARM, Intel's dominance is finally beginning to end. @rick & luting I dont think other ARM Processor manufacturers like Qualcomm/Marvell/TI is poised to take over this market like nVidia, because none of them have a proper GPU which can take the load of Windows AERO other flashy UIs. Going forward majority of the OS improvements will be in the UI(MS stated it many times) and only nVidia has the technology to complement an ARM CPU for dealing with this. Other GPU manufactures like Imagination/ARM MALI will take time to catch up with nVidia to do heavy graphics processing.

luting
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
luting   1/7/2011 2:12:00 PM
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I don't agree on nVidia has much advantage on graphics for embedded market mainly for advanced UI and relative simple graphics. Imagination tech and ARM are leading this. A company knows how to build expensive Ferrari is not necessary good at building low cost efficient car like Toytota Corolla. If i remember right, nVidia is licensing Imagination Tehc core for its SoC. Plus, i have been strongly against using 3D core to implement flash UI. What a big waste of power and resource. If UI is all you need, CPU software is more than enough for small screen. A simple 2D or 2.5D with perspective transformation will perform way better than 3D core. 3D only makes sense when game is required. Apple uses 3D graphics iPhone since iPhone has game requirement. So it is free resource for its UI. I found lots of companies start to follow Apple blindly without considering its own scenarios.

eewiz
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eewiz   1/7/2011 2:22:16 PM
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If you look the context of this article, you can find out that we are talking about nVidia being a NOTEBOOK/DESKTOP CPU replacement running Win 8 OS. For Embedded market what you are saying totally makes sense.

Warren3
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
Warren3   1/7/2011 10:37:16 PM
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I don't think you've correctly catagorized the segments that nVidia+Win8 are going after... but you are right that they aren't talking embedded.

dirk.bruere
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
dirk.bruere   1/7/2011 8:53:42 AM
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Bootup times are largely down to HDD access speeds. Putting the OS on a high performance SSD should speed up things a lot. As for the OS itself, we shall have to wait until Google merge Chrome with Android. I don't think raw Linux will take off on the desktop, but tablets might be the Trojan Horse it needs in Android form.

Etmax
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Etmax   1/7/2011 12:49:21 PM
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Another major cause of boot times is the shear size of files/data that has to be initialised. For arguments sake, if the OS fitted in 100k it could run entirely in cache and could be loaded of 1 revolution of the hard disk. The further you depart from this ideal, the worse things become. That is the real issue with boot times

luting
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luting   1/7/2011 2:19:25 PM
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I don't agree on that. HDD throughput is over 50MB/Sec now days. I don't think it takes more than 100MB to boot even a complicated OS. 2 seconds is only small portion of boot time.

Robinho
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Robinho   1/8/2011 7:04:53 AM
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SSD does have a huge advantage over HDDs. My windows 7 laptop boots in less than 40s with SSD.

luting
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luting   1/7/2011 2:15:51 PM
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Why people keep bitching about windows boot speed? It is very good to me considering its complexity. Do a quick experiment on your iPhone. Remove battery and put it back on. Time it to see how fast to boot. It is unfair comparison between cold boot speed in PC to wake up speed in your iPhone.

fergie1965
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fergie1965   1/8/2011 3:52:55 AM
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Disclosure: I work for ARM.. Been sat reading this thread for the past couple of days trying to decide if/how to chime in here. In this area, I see us as having two beliefs 1) Different applications require different computing requirements. One size does not fit all 2) There is room (indeed there is demand) for technical innovation alongside the processor core to deliver optimized solutions for particular applications. Algorithms that involve bit manipulation are often better handled in hardware than in general purpose processors... Microsoft's announcement this week delivers an additional element of choice to the ARM ecosystem. It will be massively important for some companies, while this announcement will be a NOP for others.

fergie1965
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re: Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM
fergie1965   1/8/2011 4:15:19 AM
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Disclosure: I work for ARM Regarding Cortex-A15 processor; Our model is to design a processor for multiple markets. The product definition work ensures that ARM profiles the efficiency with which the processor handles multiple workloads. For ARM's applications processors, the first instantiations in actual SoCs are normally focused the mobile arena as evidenced by the 3 lead silicon partners revealed in September 2010 at the Cortex-A15 launch. But the processor's extended addressing, hardware virtualization support and higher performance will, I believe, see it gain adoption over time into a number of additional segments including automotive infotainment, medical and yes, some computing/server applications. One other point. There is nothing in the processor itself that prevents more than 8 or 16 or.. processors to be put down on a piece of silicon. ARM focuses its on-chip interconnect IP toward high volume applications so naturally, this tends to be centered toward smaller processor configurations. Other partners that wish to target higher performance applications are either utilizing their own internally-developed interconnect technology or licensing IP from other 3rd parties to form significantly bigger processor compute subsystems.

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