During a Q&A session at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco earlier this week, Nvidia revealed intentions of getting into the x86 business, saying it was a matter of 'when', and not 'if.'
"I think some time down the road it makes sense to take the same level of integration that we've done with Tegra," said Michael Hara, Nvidia's senior VP of investor relations and communications. "Tegra is by any definition a complete computer on a chip, and the requirements of that market are such that you have to be very low power, very small, but highly efficient. So in that particular state it made a lot of sense to take that approach, and someday it's going to make sense to take the same approach in the x86 market as well."
For the here and now, Nvidia is content to pair its Ion platform with Intel's Atom processor, but for how long? Hara explained that it might make sense to approach the x86 market in two or three years, and while he wasn't willing to offer a more concrete timeframe, he did say "there's no question it's on our minds."
No doubt Intel's x86 license is also on Nvidia's minds, as the two companies tussle over whether or not Nvidia is allowed to build chipsets for Nehalem. How the current dispute plays out could play a big role on how Nvidia approaches the CPU business.
Do you like the idea of Nvidia building CPUS? Hit the jump and tell us what you think.
If going strictly by the spec sheet, Eurocom's Phantom i7 notebook would nail every boutique OEM right between the eyes. This is the most decked out notebook we've ever seen, and also one you're likely never to see unless Eurocom decides to position the Phantom beyond workstation and server markets.
We're talking either a Core i7 965 Extreme or a not-yet-announced Core i7-based Xeon X5580 (3.2GHz) processor, up to 12GB of triple-channel memory at debut and twice that much later in the year, up to FOUR hard drives in a RAID 0, 1, or 5 array, and either an Nvidia GeForce Go GTX 280M 1GB or Quadro FX3700M discrete graphics to push pixels on the 17-inch, 1600 x 1050 LCD display.
It all adds up to a 12-pound monster with a maximum power consumption rated at about 220 watts. Eurocom spokesman Matt Bialic says the Phantom i7 will last about 60 minutes before needing to recharge the battery.
Look for the Phantom i7 to ship by the end of March starting at $3,000. A fully configured Phantom will cost more than $5,000.
During a phone interview with InformationWeek, Dirk Meyer, CEO of AMD, said the chip maker is on track to deliver 32nm CPUs by the middle of next year, with testing of the new chips to be complete by the end of this year and volume production to begin in Q4 2010. This would put AMD roughly a year behind Intel in shifting to the smaller manufacturing process, as AMD's rival chip maker is expected to produce 32nm chips by Q4 of this year.
AMD closes its deal with the Abu Dhabi government tomorrow for the creation of AMD's manufacturing spinoff, the Foundry Co., who will create the new chips. Once finalized, the deal will lift about $1.1 billion in debt out of AMD's books, freeing the company to concentrate on designing new parts.
It remains to be seen if AMD will also integrate major graphics in a 32nm process through the Foundry Co. as well.
There has been some renewed excitement over AMD's triple-core Phenom X3 processors after at least one user claims to have been able to unlock the fourth core. The post appeared on Korean website Playwares.com backed by what appear to be legitimately looking screenshots. Using a Bisotar TA790GX motherboard, all it supposedly took was changing the "Advanced Clock Calibration" in the BIOS to 'Auto,' which reportedly unlocks the disabled core.
Citing un-named motherboard makers, DigiTimes says the report has caused an upsurge in demand for AMD's Phenom X3 chips. Those same sources also described the credibility of unlocking reports as very high, but cautioned that it might only apply to specific batches of CPUs and not the whole tri-core lineup.
Not surprisingly, AMD isn't commenting on whether or not the disabled cores can be re-enabled. And until we see it for ourselves or from a reputable source, we remain skeptical that it can be done.
AMD Socket F (1207) Opteron owners have reason to rejoice, as it looks like the chip maker's upcoming Istanbul chip is on target for a 2H 2009 release and won't require any new hardware. A 6-core chip built on a 45nm manufacturing process with 6MB of L3 cache, Istanbul will go head-to-head with Intel's 6-core Dunnington-based Xeon released in September 2008. AMD had some heavy criticism for Dunnington following its release, saying it's just a glued together triple-dual core processor with 50 percent more cores than the quad-core and costing 50 percent more, among other complaints.
We'll have to wait for Istanbul's release to see how it stacks up against Intel's 6-core solution, but in the meantime, AMD did demonstrate a 24-core Istanbul configuration pitted against a 16-core Shanghai rig using the same parts, both with HyperTransport 3 enabled. With 50 percent more cores, the Istanbul machine produced almost double the bandwidth at 42,000 MB/s versus 25,000 MB/s for the Shanghai setup.
No pricing information or release date has yet been given, although AMD is planning on offering both lower-power HE and high performance SE models.
Nvidia showcased its bantam Ion platform during CES 2009. The Ion platform basically combines Intel’s Atom CPU with the GeForce 9400M GPU. Ion-toting netbooks are expected to be head and shoulders above today’s netbooks - that make a meal of even the simplest graphical tasks - in terms of graphics.
Time will tell if this proves to be a somber moment or cause for celebration, but AMD on Wednesday announced that it had secured stockholder approval for the creation of 'The Foundry Company.' That means AMD can now officially focus its efforts on the design of new chips and technologies, leaving the burden of manufacturing and associated costs to its Abu Dhabi-based spinoff.
While the split into separate design and manufacturing firms represents a major shift for the No. 2 CPU maker, the original vote had to be postponed after a low turnout by shareholders last week. At the time, 97 percent of the shares voted were cast in favor of the spinoff, but the shares voted represented only 42 percent of its total stock. This time around, AMD managed to scrounge up the majority vote it needed.
Under terms of the deal, AMD stockholders approved a proposal to issue 58 million shares of the company's common stock with warrants to purchase 35 million shares of its common stock and 35 million shares of the common stock upon exercise of those warrants to an affiliate of the Mubadala Development Company PJSC.
The transaction is expected to close by March 2, 2009.
The SSD era is fast approaching and Intel would like nothing more than to flood the retail channel with its own branded solid-state drives. To help do that, and to clear out stockpiled inventory, Intel has started offering significant discounts to its channel partners who opt to buy Core i7 processors and SSDs bundled together, says Digitimes.
According to the report, discounts range from 10 to 15 percent and primarily target markets in China, Europe, and North America. For reference, pricing for the company's latest SSDs looks like this:
X25-E 32GB: $410
X18-M 80GB: $385
X25-M 80GB: $385
X18-M 160GB: $760
Intel also plans to launch the X25-E 64GB later this year for $790, before discount. However, it's not a given that the bundled price points will result in less expensive parts for the end-user. There's no stipulation in place that the discount has to be passed on to consumers, and vendors could opt to keep the savings for themselves.
Maker’s Mark is of course the name of a fine Kentucky bourbon whiskey, but the phrase also applies to the stamp that skilled artisans apply to their creations. When you’ve finished building your custom PC, we’d encourage you to stamp it with your own maker’s mark; after all, the one-of-a-kind creation you’ll have wrought will have nothing in common with the mass-produced rigs that mainstream manufacturers churn out by the millions.
That’s one of the most exciting aspects of our hobby. Automobile buffs can tune and customize their factory-built cars and trucks, but computer geeks like us get to build something new and unique almost entirely from whole cloth. And it’s so easy that you have to wonder why anyone would buy a preassembled PC in the first place.
Thanks to the relatively open architecture that IBM stumbled into oh so many years ago (and has likely regretted ever since), we can rebuild and retune our creations again and again, boosting their performance and postponing their obsolescence. We do hit a wall every now and again. Intel’s new Core i7 CPU is a good example. Because the new processor features an onboard memory controller—a first for Intel, although AMD’s procs have had the technology for years—the company had to design a new socket architecture to accommodate the additional pins. That blocks the upgrade path for anyone using an LGA775 motherboard.
Intel has AMD on the run in the CPU front, but AMD is poking Nvidia in the behind in the graphics processor market. The result: ever more powerful, ever less expensive videocards. The two companies have shipped so many new parts that we expect things will stabilize over the next quarter or so, so now’s the time to find a great deal whether you’re building a new rig or retrofitting an old one. And if you’ve never experienced the joy and pride of building your own PC, click through to read our in-depth, hands-on guide.
Either news and rumor site The Inquirer is seriously stirring the pot between Intel and Nvidia, or the two companies are looking to move in on each other's territory. It first started last week when The Inqposted a report claiming Intel will design the PlayStation 4 GPU, not Nvidia, and further stating there's a good chance Microsoft's Xbox3 console will sport ATI hardware.
Now the rumor site says Nvidia is trying to make an x86 chip and has put the word out to engineers.
"Word reached us a bit ago that Nvidia is definitely working on a x86 chip and the firm is heavily recruiting x86 engineers all over Silicon Valley," The Inquirer wrote.
But there's a problem with the rumor, other than it being unconfirmed speculation at this point. If Nvidia seriously is considering putting out a x86 CPU, it would have to climb a legal mountain before doing so. Given how long it took Nvidia and Intel to come to licensing terms to combine SLI technology with Intel-based chipsets, it seems unlikely the two would come to another licensing agreement, this time involving x86 technology.
The other route Nvidia could take is to form an alliance with a company already possessing a x86 license, but assuming Nvidia could pull it off, and assuming Nvidia is interested in x86 chip design in the first place, the move would still likely end up in a lengthy court battle.
Thoughts on Nvidia developing a x86 CPU? Hit the jump and tell us what you think.