by Anton Shilov
11/10/2011 | 11:08 PM
Nvidia Corp. will continue to develop its own microprocessor architecture based on ARM instruction set despite of the fact that the new breed of ARMv8 chips will support 64-bit capability and will aim servers and high-performance computing segment. The company remains excited about its project Denver and believes that it is on-track to release it sometimes in 2013.
"We are busily working on Denver, it is on track. Our expectation is that we will talk about it more, hopefully, towards the end of next year [calendar January, 2013]. [...] As we get closer to the release of Denver, we will reveal more and more of the strategies that are related to Denver. I think you are going to be as blown away and as excited as I am," said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive officer of Nvidia, during the latest quarterly conference call with financial analysts.
Known under the internal code-name "project Denver, the Nvidia initiative includes an Nvidia CPU running the ARM instruction set, which will be fully integrated on the same chip as the Nvidia GPU. The hybrid processors which will have both 64-bit ARM general-purpose cores as well as Nvidia's custom compute cores known as stream processors will be aimed at various market segments, most importantly at high-performance computing and data center servers. Nvidia's chief executive does not exclude the chips from entering very energy-efficient high throughput servers. Since technologies developed within project Denver are universal, they will eventually span across the whole lineup of Nvidia products, from Tegra to GeForce to Quadro to Tesla. Obviously, Denver-derivatives may power next-generation game consoles as well.
"Our focus [with Project Denver] is to supplement, add to ARM's capabilities by extending the ARM's architecture to segments in a marketplace that they are not themselves focused on. There are some segments in the marketplace where single-threaded performance is still very important and 64-bit is vital. So, we dedicated ourselves to create a new [micro-]architecture that extends the ARM instruction set, which is inherently very energy-efficient already, and extend it to high-performance segments that we need for our company to grow [on] our market," stressed Mr. Huang.
ARM recently announced its own ARMv8 architecture (and instruction set) that supports 64-bit capability and an array of features specifically designed for servers. Although Nvidia's Denver and ARM's eventual Cortex-A cores are aimed at the same market segments, they are unlikely to interfere as the first actual Denver products are projected to emerge in calendar 2013, whereas the first ARMv8 prototypes are only expected in 2014.
"Denver architecture is [...] designed to bring a new level of performance and efficiency to the ARM instruction set beyond where they currently are. [...] In some areas that are very important to us, they are rather non-markets for them today," stressed Mr. Huang.