Nvidia Hires Former Transmeta Engineers to Develop x86 Microprocessor – Analyst

Nvidia and x86 CPU Rumours Resurrect as Nvidia Begins to Hire Engineers from Transmeta

by Anton Shilov
11/03/2009 | 03:23 PM

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:

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.