Friday, December 04, 2009

Core Values: What's next for NVIDIA?


Core Values is our new monthly column from Anand Shimpi, Editor-in-chief of AnandTech. With over a decade of experience poring over the latest in chip developments, he's here to explain how things work and why our tech is the way it is.

I remember the day AMD announced it was going to acquire ATI. NVIDIA told me that its only competitor just threw in the towel. What a difference a few years can make.

The last time NVIDIA was this late to a major DirectX transition was seven years ago, and the company just quietly confirmed we won't see its next-generation GPU, Fermi, until Q1 2010. If AMD's manufacturing partner TSMC weren't having such a terrible time making 40nm chips I'd say that AMD would be gobbling up marketshare like a fat kid. By the time NVIDIA gets its entire stack of DX11 hardware out the gate, AMD will be a quarter away from putting out newly refreshed GPUs.

Things aren't much better on the chipset side either -- for all intents and purposes, the future of NVIDIA's chipset business in the PC space is dead. Not only has NVIDIA recently announced that it won't be pursuing any chipsets for Intel's Core i3, i5. or i7 processors until its various legal disputes with Intel are resolved, It doesn't really make sense to be a third-party chipset vendor anymore. Both AMD and Intel are more than capable of doing chipsets in-house, and the only form of differentiation comes from the integrated graphics core -- so why not just sell cheap discrete GPUs for OEMs to use alongside Intel chipsets instead?

Even Ion is going to be short lived. NVIDIA's planning to mold an updated graphics chip into an updated chipset for the next-gen Atom processor, but Pine Trail brings the memory controller and graphics onto the CPU and leaves NVIDIA out in the cold once again.

Let's see, no competitive GPUs, no future chipset business. This isn't looking good so far -- but the one thing I've learned from writing about these companies for the past 12 years is that the future's never as it seems. Chances are, NVIDIA's going to look a lot different in the future because of two things: Tesla and Tegra.

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Core Values: What's next for NVIDIA? originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 04 Dec 2009 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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