Feeds

Nvidia to take on Intel with PC-centric ARM chip

AMD all over again?

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

CES 2011 Move over, Intel, here comes Nvidia. Not with an x86 CPU - though rumours to that effect have been rippling through the chip biz for years - but an ARM-based offering aimed at PCs, workstations and even servers.

Yes, the as-yet-unnamed processor - it's codenamed 'Project Denver' - will not be pitched at mobile devices, the intended home of Nvidia's Tegra 2 line, but at the kind of boxes Intel has owned for the last 30-odd years.

A bonkers move? At first glance it seems so, the x86 platform having so vast an installed base and the de facto standard for such systems.

Earlier during his CES 2011 presentation, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang stated his keenness on such de facto standards, for example Adobe Flash, which he was pleased to trumpet works on Tegra 2-based Android gadgets but not on the devices' main rivals: Apple's iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad.

So many developers already create so many web sites using Flash, you'd be daft not to support the Adobe tech, he said. You could make the same argument for x86, as Intel executives had done not two hours earlier at their CES press conference, claiming some 1m x86 PCs are shipping every day at the moment.

Well, when it comes to CPUs, it's a different matter, Huang insisted, stating that ARM is the fastest-growing CPU architecture in history and has an installed base well beyond that of Intel's chips, even if you ignore AMD's contribution.

Huang contrasted the almost ten years it took the Mac OS and Windows to reach 100m units with the three years or so it's taken Android and iOS to rack up the same total.

Not a fair comparison. World+Dog is gadget crazy these days in a way they just weren't back in the early days of the Mac and PC.

Still, in anticipation that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will today announced an ARM-oriented incarnation of Windows, Nvidia reckons there's room for the low-power architecture in systems big and small, and it believes it's in the best position to satisfy that demand with its brand of ARM CPU and GeForce GPU system-on-a-chip tech.

ARM is certainly a platform that will grow and grow as more folk buy smartphones and tablets, but even with a Windows 7 available on ARM, it's going to take some time for software developers to come up with compatible desktop apps - assuming, of course, they anticipate a sufficiently large customer base to justify the cost of that development. Microsoft may yet surprise us with an emulator built into the OS to allow old x86 apps to continue to be run.

High-end number crunching boxes are different - they makers and owners are used to rolling their own code for the specific tasks they have in mind. But this is a niche market, and Nvidia's inclusion of personal computers in the list of Denver-centric devices shows that it wants its chip to be more than a niche player. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
Things are looking up in Flappy Bird sequel
'Swing Copters' offers the same gameplay but in a different direction
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.