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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > nVidia will make a custom ARM cpu for PCs, servers and HPC

nVidia will make a custom ARM cpu for PCs, servers and HPC
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OreoCookie
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Jan 6, 2011, 06:22 AM
 
There was a big announcement by nVidia: they are developing a high-performance cpu based on the ARM instruction set. Together with Microsoft's announcement that Windows 8 will run on ARM, this, I think, is very big news which could break the Wintel paradigm that is synonymous with desktop computing (well, ~90 % of the market at least).

Of course, we will have to wait and see what actually materializes, but nVidia seems to be very certain of their strategy and in principle, people can use the same architecture for all types of devices: from washing machines to routers to smartphones to pcs to supercomputer clusters. Since the architecture is `open' (in the sense you can license it quite easily), nothing would stop a manufacturer to make a custom SoC tailored to the needs of the manufacturer. At one point, I wouldn't be surprised if a future version of the MacBook Air, for instance, would have an ARM instead of an x86 cpu.
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mduell
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Jan 8, 2011, 06:48 PM
 
Sounds like a great excuse to have everyone buy all new software.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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Jan 9, 2011, 06:42 AM
 
Most software companies (save Adobe and Microsoft, of course) gave free universal binary updates when OS X on Intel was released, so I wouldn't be that pessimistic.
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Lateralus
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Jan 9, 2011, 08:18 AM
 
I hate nVidia, but the potential of this has me quite excited. I like to watch evolution take its course in electronics, and Wintel has impeded that evolution for so long; patch atop patch atop patch is so ridiculous when one processor architecture after another has come (and gone) that was/is inherently better than x86.
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OreoCookie  (op)
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Jan 9, 2011, 08:35 AM
 
The thing that excites me the most is not just the fact that the ARM architecture doesn't have the same limitations as x86 (which are masked quite well by now), but rather the tight integration with a powerful GPU. I've read a very interesting article recently that right now, the optimal number of cores for most workloads is <=4 and if you want to increase processing power, you need to couple the cpu to a potent GPU and make that power available via modern APIs. nVidia knows how to build powerful gpus and if they're able to integrate it into a gpu with very good performance/watt, I think they may have a winner on their hands.

Intel on the other hand, knows much less about gpus, so I reckon they will have a hard time in certain parts of the market. The server market (e. g. Linux-based servers) does not depend so much on the cpu architecture and I reckon, they can make inroads in that market first. Given Apple's expertise in supporting multiple architectures (which is even simpler with their new compiler architecture of choice), I think they have an easier time than Microsoft to use such chips in future products if they wanted to.

Even though nVidia's chip is just vapor ware at this point and I haven't heard any concrete time tables, but it's clear that this is a big gamble on nVidia's part. They've come to the same realization as Microsoft: at one point not too far in the future, most computers will be SoCs. Makes sense to me.
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lpkmckenna
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Jan 9, 2011, 10:27 AM
 
Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
I hate nVidia
Why?
     
P
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Jan 9, 2011, 05:08 PM
 
nVidia has this cycle where they become incredibly arrogant every now and then - making products that don't sell and accuse everyone and their grandmother of being unfair in reviews when they lose. They had this thing in the GTX 200 era where I have it on good authority that nVidia called up every reviewer that rated Radeon 4x00 cards as better value for money (ie, basically everyone) and complained that they didn't take PhysX into account, and that the nVidia cards would clearly win if that was considered. They also have the craziest, most unintuitive model numbering scheme for their graphics cards, and it feels like they're intentionally trying to fool people. It's a cycle, though, and it feels like they're dialing down the crazy at the moment.
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Lateralus
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Jan 10, 2011, 05:52 AM
 
Not to mention the 3dfx support debacle/lie...
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