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Nvidia Corp. has reportedly begun hiring engineers from Transmeta, a failed developer of microprocessors that features compatibility with x86 using code-morphing software, in order to develop its own x86 central processing unit (CPU) in a bid to continue its chipset business, according to an analyst.

“We believe Nvidia could enter the x86 CPU business. Nvidia could become a supplier of x86 CPUs by necessity to preserve both GPU and chipset revenue. […] We believe that Nvidia has hired former Transmeta staff extensively, and that instruction code "morphing" requirements have declined as more x86 instructions have come off of patent coverage,” said analyst Doug Freedman of Broadpoint AmTech, reports EETimes web-site.

Graphics processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs) used to have almost nothing in common a decade ago, but huge advances in the graphics chip design as well as the evolution of CPUs have greatly moved both towards each other: GPUs are now much more programmable than back in the days, whereas microprocessors now feature many cores, built-in memory controllers and will soon even gain graphics engines.

Nvidia completely understands that CPUs and GPUs are getting closer to each other and has already made a number of steps towards its own microprocessor:

  • Firstly, Nvidia joined HyperTransport Consortium at the time when the technology was called Lighting Data Transport and was primarily known as a universal bus for next-generation CPUs by Advanced Micro Devices.
  • Secondly, Nvidia entered Silicon-on-Insulator process technology consortium.
  • Thirdly, back in January ’09 Nvidia replaced its chief scientist David Kirk with William Dally, who is known for his expertise in parallel computing technologies as well as work on Cell/Larrabee-like microprocessors.
  • Fourthly, some claim that Nvidia has been hiring microprocessor specialists from Stexar for several years now. Moreover, Nvidia is now claimed to be interested in Transmeta engineers.

In fact, some even expressed belief that Nvidia planned to acquire Via Technologies, however, since x86 licenses are non-transferrable, it hardly made sense for the company to acquire the struggling developer of chipsets and microprocessors.

“We believe internally developed x86 solutions are more likely than external acquisitions (i.e. Via Technologies),” said Mr. Freedman.

Nvidia itself has always denied any plans to develop its own microprocessor and claimed that the CPUs are no longer important, the company acquired a non-exclusive license to Transmeta’s Long Run and LongRun2 technologies and other intellectual property, which includes computing technologies, for use in connection with Nvidia products back in mid-2008.

Tags: Nvidia, x86, Transmeta, , Intel, AMD, Via Technologies, Nforce, Geforce

Discussion

Comments currently: 4
Discussion started: 11/05/09 10:02:44 AM
Latest comment: 11/06/09 06:44:42 AM
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Considering how unstable nVIDIA chipsets are I don't think I will even consider a CPU from them as an option. I'm pretty sure that they won't be able to make anything competitive anyway. At most make something equal to the Intel Atom.
0 0 [Posted by: JonMCC33  | Date: 11/05/09 10:02:44 AM]
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On the AMD side of things, nVidia chipsets runs stable. I can understand your bad grapes about nVidia on the Intel side. Chipsets from 3rd party manufactures for Intel processors have always been unstable. This is not nVidia's fault. It is more of Intel's fault by monopolying the market on their side. AMD does not because they are mostly open to competition. Basically, AMD feeds on competition while Intel just does not want it even though Intel saids they want competition. Based on that criteria, Intel probably will not license 80x86 to nVidia.

I will not consider buying nVidia chipsets for Intel systems.

I will consider buying nVidia chipsets for AMD systems.
0 0 [Posted by: jmurbank  | Date: 11/05/09 02:19:29 PM]
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On the AMD side of things, nVidia chipsets runs stable.


My experience shows otherwise. My old Asus A8N32-SLI paired with an AMD Opteron 165 was far from stable. I would get random BSOD crashes (Windows XP) at least twice a week. When that same CPU was on an Asus A8R-MVP I never had issues.

It wasn't the video card, sound card or hard drive because I migrated all of that to an Intel Core 2 Duo rig with a P35 chipset. Never had stability issues with that setup.

Will never touch anything nVIDIA ever again. By far the most horrible and unstable drivers that I have ever seen.
0 0 [Posted by: JonMCC33  | Date: 11/06/09 05:54:25 AM]
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2. 
It looks like nVIDIA may have plans to produce a GPU like Intels Larrabee. I don't see nVIDIA producing a a x86 processor but I could be wrong.
0 0 [Posted by: redman2025  | Date: 11/06/09 06:44:42 AM]
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