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Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM

January 07, 2011 // Peter Clarke

Nvidia to attack CPU market with ARM

Nvidia Corp., best known as a supplier of graphics processor units (GPUs), has announced that it intends to build high-performance microprocessors for applications ranging from PCs and servers up to workstations and supercomputers. Nvidia (Santa Clara, CA) will base its designs on an architecture license from ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) in what is a full-frontal attack on the world's largest chip company, Intel Corp.


Nvidia has been a long-standing licensor of ARM intellectual property but has previously made use of individual core licenses. "Project Denver," as the latest initiative is known, features an Nvidia processor running the ARM instruction set, which will be integrated with an Nvidia GPU array.

This processor stems from a strategic partnership, also announced today, under which Nvidia has obtained rights to develop its own high performance CPU cores based on ARM's future processor architecture. In addition, Nvidia has licensed ARM's current top-of-the-range Cortex-A15 processor for its future-generation Tegra mobile processors.

The news comes as Microsoft has announced that the full Windows 8 operating system will run on the ARM architecture, thereby enabling vendors of non-x86 processors to enter the Windows PC market.

"ARM is the fastest-growing CPU architecture in history," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive officer of Nvidia, in a statement. "With Project Denver, we are designing a high-performing ARM CPU core in combination with our massively parallel GPU cores to create a new class of processor," he added.

Warren East, ARM chief executive officer said: "Nvidia is a key partner for ARM and this announcement shows the potential that partnership enables. With this architecture license, Nvidia will be at the forefront of next generation SoC design, enabling the Internet everywhere era to become a reality."

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