Nvidia's David Shannon said in a blog on Tuesday that the company is now licensing out its GPU cores and visual computing patent portfolio to device manufacturers. Why? To serve the needs of a larger piece of the market. PC sales are declining with the rise of smartphones and tablets, and GPU licensing opens up another lane of revenue to make up for that trickling income.
"It’s not practical to build silicon or systems to address every part of the expanding market. Adopting a new business approach will allow us to address the universe of devices," he said. "The explosion of Android devices presents an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate this effort."
Years ago, this opportunity didn't exist because there was mainly one computational device: the PC. But the "swirling" universe of new computing devices opens a door for Nvidia to be present in every form factor whether ODMs use Tegra chips or not. It will definitely be interesting to see what device makers will do with this technology.
However this isn't the first time Nvidia has licensed out its tech. The company signed a GPU deal with Sony for the PlayStation 3, and also licensed its visual computing patents to Intel for more than $250 million per year. That's not chump change, and now Nvidia plans to take a similar licensing route with its Keplar GPU cores.
"Through our efforts designing Tegra into mobile devices, we’ve gained valuable experience designing for the smallest power envelopes," Shannon said. "As a result, Kepler can operate in a half-watt power envelope, making it scalable from smartphones to supercomputers."
As we already know, Keplar is the core architecture in currently shipping GeForce, Quadro and Tesla GPUs, and will be packed into Nvidia's next-generation "Logan" Tegra chip slated for a 2014 release. Licensees will receive all necessary designs, collateral and support to integrate these Keplar cores into their devices, he said.
"We’ll also offer licensing rights to our visual computing portfolio," Shannon added. "This will enable licensees to develop their own GPU functionality while enjoying design freedom under the best visual computing patent portfolio in the world."
He concludes the blog by saying that for the consumer, licensing means "more of the planet’s users will be able to enjoy our advanced graphics technologies." For mobile gamers, that's undoubtedly awesome news.