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Nvidia Making x86 CPU With Ex-Transmeta Brains?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 52 comments

Remember the Crusoe? Perhaps now it'll live on at Nvidia.

We've been hearing rumors of Nvidia's interest in entering the x86 CPU since last year, and now the rumblings are back.

With Nvidia not having the license to produce chipsets for the latest generation of Intel chips, the graphics company may have a further reason to make its own. Intel is also moving towards integrating graphics cores onto its CPUs, providing another threat to Nvidia's graphics business. Putting both of those things together, analysts believe that could be enough for Nvidia to get into the x86 game.

''We believe Nvidia could enter the x86 CPU business,'' said analyst Doug Freedman of Broadpoint AmTech, in an EETimes story. ''Nvidia could become a supplier of x86 CPUs by necessity to preserve both GPU and chipset revenue.''

For a while, there was speculation that Nvidia would acquire or invest heavily into VIA Technologies for the company's CPU properties, but now Broadpoint AmTech believes it'll be an in-house job.

''We believe internally developed x86 solutions are more likely than external acquisitions (i.e. Via Technologies),'' Freedman said.

What could make things even more interesting is the analyst's belief that Nvidia has picked up talent from Transmeta: ''We believe that Nvidia has hired former Transmeta staff extensively, and that instruction code "morphing" requirements have declined as more x86 instructions have come off of patent coverage,'' he said.

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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    Greg_77 , November 4, 2009 7:21 PM
    More competition would be nice :) 
  • 20 Hide
    Regected , November 4, 2009 7:30 PM
    We keep hearing about x86 CPUs coming from Nvidia, but nothing more of it. Consumers on the whole are losing as long as we are bound to this architecture/instruction set. Once Intel loses it's grip on our computer progress, we can see greater leaps and bounds in computers.
Other Comments
  • 27 Hide
    Greg_77 , November 4, 2009 7:21 PM
    More competition would be nice :) 
  • Display all 52 comments.
  • 9 Hide
    eyemaster , November 4, 2009 7:25 PM
    I wonder if their next crop of GPU's will be able to emulate an x86 chip... if so, how fast would it run?
  • 20 Hide
    Regected , November 4, 2009 7:30 PM
    We keep hearing about x86 CPUs coming from Nvidia, but nothing more of it. Consumers on the whole are losing as long as we are bound to this architecture/instruction set. Once Intel loses it's grip on our computer progress, we can see greater leaps and bounds in computers.
  • -1 Hide
    roofus , November 4, 2009 7:32 PM
    I like Nvidia boards but man they can get hot if you don't take precautions. I think a Nvidia CPU would require a double check on your house insurance for fire damage. Not trying to be a rain cloud but they need to worry about getting the 300 series out and leave CPU's to the experts.
  • 7 Hide
    Manos , November 4, 2009 7:33 PM
    Greg_77More competition would be nice


    Yeah so its all good. I actually hope they do so but they better not start creating incompatibility issues, if they do so, with later on drivers with other companes "non intentionally" if you get my drift ...
  • 5 Hide
    nforce4max , November 4, 2009 7:34 PM
    I hope they do make a GOOD cpu that is at least on par with AMD on fpu on a per clock bases with good I/O then they would be great for business and gaming use. Please hoping for a multi socket desktop.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 4, 2009 7:35 PM
    eyemasterI wonder if their next crop of GPU's will be able to emulate an x86 chip... if so, how fast would it run?

    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/265251-28-emulate-cores

    I posted a topic about that idea and everyone seemed to dismiss the idea. I still think it would be good on certain applications depending if the whole program could be decoded and executed. Much faster than only looking at 100-200 instructions of a 10,000 instruction program. Many more things could/should be programmed into a parallel mode of computation.
  • 3 Hide
    demonnn , November 4, 2009 8:01 PM
    more competition is what we need , and more options when buying cpu. I would love nVidia to enter cpu market.
  • -1 Hide
    dark_lord69 , November 4, 2009 8:19 PM
    Imaging you could have PC that is almost all nVidia!
  • 4 Hide
    rjkucia , November 4, 2009 8:24 PM
    But wouldn't they still need an x86 license from Intel? Once again, Intel has the upper hand here.
  • -2 Hide
    Drag0nR1der , November 4, 2009 8:26 PM
    As a system builder (for personal use) I really don't look forward to having to choose my cpu, gpu and chipset from a single manufacturer, I think this may actually be bad for competition in the long run. Inter-operability of various pieces of hardware is what a pc is all about. We had systems that were all integrated on one board, then they started to split in to compnent pieces and we have much more choice, now it looks like it may be going the other way... to my mind that is not progress
  • 0 Hide
    cyberkuberiah , November 4, 2009 8:34 PM
    nvidia with x86 , amd with fusion and intel with larrabee are all going to a common product future period . heavyweight single threaded cores coupled with parallel arrays of cuda cores/shaders etc . all three can make chipsets , processors and graphics .
  • 1 Hide
    cyberkuberiah , November 4, 2009 8:38 PM
    eyemasterI wonder if their next crop of GPU's will be able to emulate an x86 chip... if so, how fast would it run?


    shuffman37http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/ [...] late-coresI posted a topic about that idea and everyone seemed to dismiss the idea. I still think it would be good on certain applications depending if the whole program could be decoded and executed. Much faster than only looking at 100-200 instructions of a 10,000 instruction program. Many more things could/should be programmed into a parallel mode of computation.


    gpu's would not emulate but assist with on die x86 silicon , is what's this is all about . amd has both , intel has both and nvidia needs its own x86 or similar capability in silicon . it can neither ask amd nor intel for this .
  • 2 Hide
    cyberkuberiah , November 4, 2009 8:43 PM
    shuffman37http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/ [...] late-coresI posted a topic about that idea and everyone seemed to dismiss the idea. I still think it would be good on certain applications depending if the whole program could be decoded and executed. Much faster than only looking at 100-200 instructions of a 10,000 instruction program. Many more things could/should be programmed into a parallel mode of computation.


    you cannot parallelize or emulate steps when the next one depends on the previous , like recursive calculations . and an softwate emulated pipeline if that's what you mean , would not run at practical speeds . adding to the above post , why emulate when you can co-operate with native on die x86 ?
  • 3 Hide
    doomtomb , November 4, 2009 9:01 PM
    At least Nvidia would be the one to give us USB 3.0... Intel and their overinflated pricing needs some competition shoved up their ass right about now.
  • 3 Hide
    Drag0nR1der , November 4, 2009 9:18 PM
    was kind of hoping this was about some kind of mutant bio x86 chip using ex Transmeta staff brains :(  oh well
  • 0 Hide
    ethanolson , November 4, 2009 9:23 PM
    Saying they have to make x86 chips is like telling NetApp that they have to start making servers to go along with their storage.
  • -2 Hide
    rooket , November 4, 2009 9:52 PM
    Thumbs up for Nvidia not going with Via. Anyone selling Via trash I won't purchase. In house is the way to go. As I recall they recruited many x86 engineers. However do we really want to stay at x86 or am I mixed up or is it limited to 32bit rather than 64bit?
  • 1 Hide
    sot010174 , November 4, 2009 10:02 PM
    I don't think Nvidia plans to fight Core I7's and Phenom 2 right off the bat. However they could debut with an Atom rival, coupling with an Ion "2" platform. I would bid farewell to my current EEE 1000hd in a heartbeat.
  • -2 Hide
    Glorian , November 4, 2009 10:59 PM
    They need to hurry if this is the case cause x86 will be on its way out as most computers are running 64 bit OS's out of the box

    I wouldn't see much competition brought, because they are only limiting their options to 32 bit, the only way I can see this being affective is if they exceed or match the performance of Amd/Intel and be really really cheap, because why buy an x86 cpu when I can buy one that does x86 and x64.

    I would not be surprised if we see Intel moving in a gaming GPU market then, and we can see all Intel/AMD/Nvidia based machines comping out.
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