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Nvidia Rumored To Be Readying X86 Chip Release

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the probably-not-for-wristwatch-computers dept.

Businesses 307

jdb2 writes with the (honestly labeled) rumor from the Inquirer "that Nvidia is preparing to release an x86 microprocessor with its guns targeted directly at its two major rivals — Intel and AMD/ATI," and excerpts from the just-linked Inquirer article: "THE HOT RUMOR going around IDF ... [is] that the company will do an x86 part. The background whispers say that the part will be announced next week at Nvision ... Nvidia's men in white coats certainly have the brainpower to do it, but they also most certainly don't have a license to sell such a part. NV is basically locked out unless Intel and AMD both decide to be magnanimous, and we would not recommend holding your breath waiting for this to happen ... That leaves the lawsuit option open ... Any attempt to enter the market without a license would bring down Intel legal on them like flying monkeys blackening the sky. It would get ugly. Really ugly. Expensive too.""

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307 comments

Odd (4, Insightful)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679435)

Didn't i just read that nVidia was getting out of the x86 chipset business? Why would they now be releasing an actual x86 Chip if they don't want to even be in the chipset business?

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/08/02/1749213 [slashdot.org]

Re:Odd (1, Insightful)

fadir (522518) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679473)

Maybe they managed to develop a "everything on a chip" solution that doesn't require a dedicated chipset?

Re:Odd (0)

Merc248 (1026032) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679569)

That would be for making northbridges and southbridges for motherboards.

Of course, they'd probably have a CPU that NEEDS a new northbridge and southbridge to go along with it, but given that nVidia - at least from what little I've read in the link you gave - denied getting out of the chipset business, it seems plausible that they would develop the northbridge and southbridge for their _CPU_.

Re:Odd (5, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679693)

Nvidia also denied that rumour vigorously, going so far as to demand a retraction of the story (from the news site, not Slashdot...). As typical, everyone seems to have caught the rumour and completely missed the denial.

Re:Odd (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679805)

Some maybe the rumor gets clarified to, we are getting out of the x86 chipset business for ATI and Intel chips because we are going to be building x86 chipsets for Nvidia x86 chips.

Re:Odd (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679883)

Nvidia also denied that rumour vigorously, going so far as to demand a retraction of the story (from the news site, not Slashdot...). As typical, everyone seems to have caught the rumour and completely missed the denial.

Right. Because when companies issue a denial of a rumour, they're always telling the truth. They'd have no reason to cover up some new product they're not quite ready to release ...

Oh, never mind, this is Nvidia, not Apple. Carry on.

Re:Odd (3, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680083)

And every rumour that makes it to the press is real? Apple doesn't actually deny rumours as such, they just don't discuss them at all - in this case however, spreading a rumour about the imminent withdrawl of a company from one of their core industries can be *extremely* costly to that company in terms of customer and shareholder confidence.

So based on past performance, I would say that the Nvidia denial is correct, and the rumour is false - we aren't talking about a denial to cover up a new product, we are talking about a denial of a rumour that could cost Nvidia significant stability and market confidence. In my opinion, whomever spread the rumour should be investigated by the SEC or whoever else has jurisdiction.

But anyhow - why should we put more weight on the rumour and dismiss the denial as you seem wanting to do?

Re:Odd (3, Interesting)

HadleyTheFox (1277144) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680369)

Yes, but also a few months ago Nvidia was denying vigorously that raytracing has any future, right up until a week ago when they showed off raytracing on their GPUs.

Re:Odd (4, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679703)

Yes you did, and if you'd kept reading you'd have seen that story debunked - it's Via that's getting out of the chipset business, not Nvidia.

Re:Odd (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679989)

Well, maybe they're making a chip that competes with the x86 that doesn't require an x86 chipset. That could mean it's a system-on-chip design. It could mean it's a MIPS, ARM, or Sparc design -- all of which compete with x86 within certain segments.

It could also be that the rumor about exiting the chipset business was just a rumor, too. It's more likely that the rumors about Via leaving the AMD and Intel chipset business and focusing on chipsets for their own processors is true than the rumor about NVidia leaving the chipset business.

Re:Odd (2, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680571)

Behavioral functionality needed to emulate an x86 is non-trivial. Ask Transmeta.

A ton of bricks awaits them, should they or others try. Look again historically at Transmeta.

Okay, I'll bite... (4, Interesting)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679443)

Any attempt to enter the market without a license would bring down Intel legal on them like flying monkeys blackening the sky.

How is it that AMD is able to release x86 chips, but nVidia can't without a license from Intel? Why would nVidia need AMD to be gracious?

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (-1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679467)

Copyright Laws, RIAA or some other mafia style garbage which 'protects' the consumer.

You know, the usual.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24679633)

If you are thinking about answering someone, please don't bother unless you have actually read and understood the question first.

If you read the parent's question once more, and still don't get what you missed first time around, you might want to consider taking a course in reading comprehension.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24680017)

Copyright, patent, same thing different duration.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (4, Interesting)

khb (266593) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679503)

In the olden days, chip consumers insisted on a second source. AMD was annointed as Intel's second source so that Intel could sell to such folks (like the US government of yesteryear).

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679637)

Cyrix used to be a player too. There was more to it than just that.

The ability to make something compatible can't be the whole story. If that were the case, there would only be two automobile manufacturers as well.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (2, Insightful)

DirkGently (32794) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680085)

Car analogies suck. The big difference between the two are that nobody holds a primary patent on the internal combustion engine. However, Intel does hold the patents to the i386 arch.

It was a deal not with the US Govt, but with IBM that allowed AMD to license and clone the 8086. Still, a lot of legal went down in the 486 era that left AMD having to clean-room reverse engineer. I don't see why nVidia would have it any different or wouldn't be able to do the same.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680525)

I don't see why nVidia would have it any different or wouldn't be able to do the same.

Because they don't hold cross-licensing agreements with nVidia. Basically IBM wanted a second source for Intel's chips, and Intel annointed AMD. Eventually, AMD started clean-room reverse engineering some more advanced stuff, came up with some of their own designs, and started competing with Intel head-to-head (around the time of the 486). There were big legal battles in the late 80s/early 90s. Another company called Cyrix was also in the mix, but they are no more, having been aquired by IBM for their chip fab some years ago.

But, to make a long story short, Intel's Itanium failed big time and the cross-licensing deal with AMD allowed them to use AMD's X86-64 architecture for their newer 64-bit CPUs.

So, Intel and AMD are at a legal truce -- and newcomers may find themselves being sued by both.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (5, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679829)

In the olden days, chip consumers insisted on a second source. AMD was annointed as Intel's second source so that Intel could sell to such folks (like the US government of yesteryear).

That's how AMD got the schematics to the original 8086, but that's no longer very relevant. Much more important today is AMD's patent cross license agreements with Intel. (BTW, the cross licensing also helped save Intel's position in the marketplace because it entitled them to use AMD's X86-64 design verbatim after the Itanium fiasco.)

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (2, Interesting)

khb (266593) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680187)

"Much more important today is AMD's patent cross license agreements with Intel."

Indeed, I did not mean to suggest that things have remained as they were in the 8086 days; just provided the origin. There is a long and tangled history of licensing between AMD and Intel. No doubt the best bits aren't public info anyway (although I suppose combing through the various legal filings in various suits could prove educational).

The particular rumor of NV entering the CPU market goes back several years. as an example.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (4, Informative)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680259)

actually, it was IBM who required two sources (per their own company policy)

later, legal disputes settled the question

TFA is nearly as useless as the summary (2, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679537)

I was going to tell you to RTFA but TFA is almost as useless as the summary. Apparently Intel and AMD have a "lock" on the technology. What part of the technology they have a "lock" on is left unsaid... the instruction set? The manufacturing processes? TFA doesn't bother to say.

Re:TFA is nearly as useless as the summary (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680359)

I was going to tell you to RTFA but TFA is almost as useless as the summary. Apparently Intel and AMD have a "lock" on the technology. What part of the technology they have a "lock" on is left unsaid... the instruction set? The manufacturing processes? TFA doesn't bother to say.

Intel and AMD have a lock on all the instruction sets that makes modern processors "modern".
SSE, MMX, 3DNOW!, AMD64, Intel 64, etc are all cross licensed between the two companies.
If they don't want to share, there isn't much anyone else can do.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679541)

Nothing as long as they clean room develop their own shit. If they just copy a design from amd or intel then the shit hits the fan. But nothing is stopping them from developing from scratch.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24680281)

Nothing as long as they clean room develop their own shit.

What absolute bollocks. "clean rooming" doesn't stop them from infringing on patents.
And there's no way in hell they can design and produce an x86 compatible CPU without trampling left and right over other companies patents.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (2, Informative)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680285)

Even if you clean room design the technology, if Intel or AMD have a patent on some necessary, fundamental aspect of the technology and you duplicate it while recreating the technology, you are still required to license it.

Keep in mind that here, lame patents are legal and enforceable.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (-1, Flamebait)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680423)

I just don't get why these companies should be allowed to patent these things. Sure, they have to spend tons of money and time to develop it, and they don't have any guarantee of returns so they're basically taking risks, but that doesn't entitle them to use their own work. They should be forced to spend the money, then release everything for free to the people.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (4, Informative)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679647)

Socket and interface patents. Intel have patents on various bits of the interface between the CPU and the motherboard, which is one of the reasons why AMD use a different one for their CPUs.

Assuming nVidia is going to make a pin-compatible processor with one of the motherboard sockets already out there, they'll need a licence from intel or AMD. That's assuming they don't produce a small low power chip wedded to a particular board, like say the intel atom or the via nano, aiming for the new netbook market or the mini pc segment.

As I understand it, they already had to cough up a SLI licence to intel in order to get a licence from intel to make nehalem compatible motherboard chipsets, which means we'll finally see realistic motherboards with sli and crossfire.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (3, Insightful)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679649)

Long ago AMD invented technologies that were better than what Intel had. Intel also had technologies patented which were better than what AMD had. They decided to share. What they did was license each other's technology to each other, basically agreeing to coexist. Intel also needs AMD, in a sense, to avoid monopoly charges. Meanwhile AMD keeps Intel honest with stiff competition. The problem with any new competitor entering the market is that neither Intel nor AMD have to license their patents to a new player. So, unless a new player comes up with some amazing new technology which Intel and AMD want enough to let that company into the patent-party, it would be very difficult for a new competitor to walk in.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (5, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679929)

Um no. More like long ago Intel needed a second source for CPU's and contracted AMD, granting a license in the process. AMD didn't start making any superior advances in CPU design for quite some time after that.

Now...get off my lawn.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (5, Insightful)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680613)

So, unless a new player comes up with some amazing new technology which Intel and AMD want enough to let that company into the patent-party, it would be very difficult for a new competitor to walk in.

What are the odds of nVidia finding some patent violation in Intel's or AMD/ATI's graphics chips? Would nVidia be able to play the Mutually Assured Destruction card?

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679651)

I'd assume that they'd need a license to include any MMX/SSE/3DNow instructions. Unless they've found some workarounds for those, releasing a chip without them would have some serious disadvantages in the marketplace. That's not to say that it can't be done, though.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24679709)

AMD won a lawsuit vs Intel granting them license to use x86 technology back in 1992 (see AMD vs Intel on wikipedia). This was a different lawsuit than the one currently underway between those companies. If memory serves, AMD also has license to use many of IBM's processor patents (including SOI technology). I don't believe Intel and IBM ever reached a cross-licensing agreement, meaning AMD likely has more access to processor patents than Intel or IBM.

I don't believe AMD can sub-license that technology - the lawsuit covers their own products only. Intel would probably have to license nVidia to use x86, unless nVidia has found some creative way around all of this. There are always loopholes.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (2, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679735)

Intel and AMD share patent licenses between each other - Intel gets certain technologies, including EM64T, and AMD gets other technologies. Unless Nvidia can break into the patent deals in the same way, neither AMD nor Intel are under any obligation to give them time of day.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (2, Insightful)

tonywong (96839) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679943)

The original article is atrocious. There are no details on what type of licensing this fellow is claiming and he throws in some patent leverage that allows VIA to get away with making x86 parts.

The author of the original article sounds like he doesn't have a clue what he has heard and has no idea how to explain it.

From what I can tell from his badly munged writing, it looks like nVidia can make x86 compatible processors to take on Intel and AMD in the performance processor market, but they are in a legal bind potentially.

This might mean that they want to make specific socket compatible parts, of which Intel and AMD have made proprietary connections and protected by numerous patents and trade secrets. nVidia probably has signed agreements with these companies for their northbridge chipset and GPU/SLI business and making CPUs would probably break all sorts of clauses therein. This is probably where the author is claiming the licensing would be required to make a socket compatible CPU.

It might also mean that nVidia wants to make their own x86 class CPU with a new northbridge of their own. Probably a nonstarter since that means you'd have to purchase a motherboard from nVidia just to use their new CPU. Probably breaks the previously mentioned clauses too.

The last scenario I could see is that nVidia cannot make a decently performing x86 compatible processor without infringing on patents that AMD and Intel own. Unless nVidia has a massive patent portfolio of their own that Intel or AMD are currently infringing upon, neither would open up any (cross) licensing discussion to nVidia and allow them to muscle in on the performance x86 market.

Re:Okay, I'll bite... (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680229)

well...for the x86 (32bit) it's intel.

For x86-64 (64bit), it's AMD.

As far as AMD vs Intel goes, AMD does have a license from Intel....originally started way back from 1982 [wikipedia.org] and after a long legal dispute after Intel tried to cancel the license, the Supreme Court of California sided with AMD in 1994

What about VIA? (5, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679453)

Does VIA has a license to make x86 processors?

Re:What about VIA? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679839)

Does VIA has a license to make x86 processors?

That's what I was wondering. What if nVidia buys VIA? Would they be able to use VIA's license? I remember reading once, many moons ago that part of the licensing agreement prevented it from transferred when and if a company was sold. However, I see no reason why nVidia couldn't just "license" their chip design to VIA.

Re:What about VIA? (5, Informative)

SlipperHat (1185737) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679849)

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=VIA_Technologies&oldid=228622133 [wikipedia.org]

On the basis of the IDT Centaur acquisition,[1] VIA appears to have come into possession of at least three patents, which cover key aspects of processor technology used by Intel. On the basis of the negotiating leverage these patents offered, in 2003 VIA arrived at an agreement with Intel that allowed for a ten year patent cross license, enabling VIA to continue to design and manufacture x86 compatible CPUs. VIA was also granted a three year grace period in which it could continue to use Intel socket infrastructure.

So the answer to your question is: Yes, but only until 2013.

Re:What about VIA? (3, Informative)

eclectro (227083) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680067)

VIA actually bought Centaur [wikipedia.org] that had patents on x86 manufacturing. But intel sued VIA and VIA reciprocated in what amounted to be a long and protracted litigation. Eventually they settled [via.com.tw] after a judge ordered them to do so (as I suspect that it was too much of a technical mess for most judges to wade through).

I actually wondered what VIA would be able to do without being able to produce a pin compatible x86 processor. But that would be answered with the very unique mini-itx line of boards which is different than what AMD did by using their own socket design.

Re:What about VIA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24680395)

Does VIA has a license to make x86 processors?

Dunno, but I think VIA can has cheezburger.

WTF is this story? (1, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679493)

It's a rumor about Nvidia producing a commercial product they're not able to produce and sell without getting a much larger and more wealthy companies lawyers descending on them like a plague of locusts.

Is there really nothing else to post stories about?

Ya sure (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24679495)

And last week The Inquirer reported that nvidia was getting out of the chipset business.

http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/08/02/nvidia-chipsets-dead [theinquirer.net]

So according to the inquirer nvidia is getting out of the chipset business, but is going to produces an x86 processor. I guess they'll have to hook up to an intel chipset...

For some reason I do not believe what the inquirer is writing...

Emulation/Translation - do it in software? (4, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679499)

They could pull a Transmeta and build a RISC/VLIW core or six and package it with an x86 interpreter or JIT translator, basically do the front end in software instead of hardware. Crusoe was using the same core to do the translation and execution, but with a multi-core CPU that pipelines the translator and interpreter on separate cores they could end up with quite a nice design.

Re:Emulation/Translation - do it in software? (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679691)

ture... or they could do it the Cyrix way, by reverse engineering.

Re:Emulation/Translation - do it in software? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680465)

A multi-socket setup like that would be kind of interesting, especially if the translation engines were software programmable at boot (or, better, switchable as needed) and it came coupled with a nice bare-metal hypervisor. You could have the equivalent of VMWare ESX, with multiple *platform* VMs, not just multiple OS VMs.

I'm sure some aspects of hardware virtualization would slow it down a lot, but perhaps not enough to cripple it entirely.

Re:Emulation/Translation - do it in software? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680615)

Oh, I wasn't thinking of multiple sockets. I was thinking of multiple cores on a single chip... like the multi-core x86 but taking advantage of the simpler instruction decoding of RISC/VLIW CPUs to reduce the size of the individual cores... you'd presumably get more CPU cores from the same transistor budget, and dedicate N/2 (or fewer) to decoding. The actual interpreter would be loaded right at the beginning of the boot process from a conventional PROM, in a multi-chip module or even in a separate chip on the motherboard.

The Inq klan HATES the nVidia klan (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24679509)

So much so, anything and everything the klowns there say about the nVidia klan can be taken for what it is, more Inq klan SHITE //

Re:The Inq klan HATES the nVidia klan (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679865)

that's another interesting point.
I'm not sure why it (parent) was tagged as offtopic.

The article linked to in the original post is on the Inq website and most slashdotians know that Inq (specifically one Inq contributor) is biased against everything nVIDIA does. Add to the fact, there are tones of bias in the original post (probably from the Inq article).

Good news (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679515)

Well this is good for the home market and we should see some consoles targeting this chipset combo possibly. However I don't think that NVidia would possibly be a contender in the real $$$ business market.

Nvidia would not need a license everywhere! (5, Interesting)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679523)

Sure, if Nvidia tried selling x86 chips in the US or Europe, the company would get its ass sued off. But what about China? What about India? What about the third world? Merely because Intel has a rock solid patent portfolio in the US does not mean diddly squat in Bangladesh.

Re:Nvidia would not need a license everywhere! (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679867)

Sure they do.
Nvidia has a company presence in the US so they can get sued here.
Not only that but India and China want to do business with Intel and AMD so they will not be real happy with open disregard for IP.
They may be perfectly happy to ignore IP but they know they must be subtle about and at least pretend to fight it.

Re:Nvidia would not need a license everywhere! (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679901)

Not to mention that Intel has been at it long enough that a huge chunk of their patents would have expired or be about to expire. There might be engineering challenges in avoiding them while getting the performance required, but it's certainly not impossible to manufacture x86 compatible CPU's without any patent licenses from Intel or AMD.

Re:Nvidia would not need a license everywhere! (2, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680071)

x86 is basically free for the taking. MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, 3dNow!, and x86-64 are not.

Re:Nvidia would not need a license everywhere! (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679945)

Sure, if Nvidia tried selling x86 chips in the US or Europe, the company would get its ass sued off. But what about China? What about India? What about the third world? Merely because Intel has a rock solid patent portfolio in the US does not mean diddly squat in Bangladesh.

It still matters in American courts as they are both American companies.

nvidia (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679525)

choices are good. freedom is good. why should they not be allowed to make a processor and see if it can stand a test of time?

Re:nvidia (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24679857)

Because Sid Meier has the phrase "stand the test of time" trademarked.

Must have a Legal Plan before starting... (4, Insightful)

khb (266593) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679559)

Given the cost of developing a full custom microprocessor (several tens of millions of dollars) including the complexity of verification ... surely a Legal Plan would have proceeded either development or acquisition.

Re:Must have a Legal Plan before starting... (2, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680051)

There is no legal problem if they reverse enginneer it and don't copy the socket design. There is not a single legal barrier to making a processor that can decode x86 instructions.

There is also virtualized x86... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24679601)

...like Transmeta had. If they have a few chips that can convert and run converted x86 instructions quickly, that would work too. Provided it runs better than Intel or AMDs stuff.
 
  Doesn't IBM and VIA (from Centaur and Cyrix) have x86 licenses as well?

Re:There is also virtualized x86... (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680093)

IBM used to, but I'm not sure about now. Via does. I don't know that Transmeta, Via, or IBM have any rights of relicensing, though.

No, not x86! (2, Insightful)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679621)

I'm tired of looking at gross call traces that are aligned every which way. Itanium was weird, but at least it would make sense. The x64 extensions are at least interesting, but don't remove the basic flaws in x86. Anybody doing systems or embedded software will have to deal with this at some point. How much brain power do we need to waste on it? Of course, the hacks that Intel itself has to go through are bad enough as it is.

lol theinquirer (1)

snarfies (115214) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679631)

Would this be the same Inquirer who (incorrectly) reported that Nvidia was pull out of the chipset business? Yes, yes it is (http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/08/02/nvidia-chipsets-dead).

Don't worry about the licensing. (4, Insightful)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679653)

I wouldn't worry about the licensing. Because if it were impossible for anyone besides Intel and AMD to make an x86 part, then please be so kind as to tell me how in the heck there are a bunch of companies out there that provide x86 parts at various levels of compatibility with the Intel original? It's not just Intel and AMD. There are Transmeta, VIA, Cyrix, ST, Fujitsu, just to name a few. Innovasic Semiconductor makes processors to replace ones that Intel has declared obsolete (see this [edageek.com]. The fact that even one company besides Intel exists (AMD) proves that it is possible for such a company to exist, either through a licensing agreement or through no agreement if none is required. This indicates that if Nvidia wishes to enter this business, it is possible for them to do so in one way or another. So I wouldn't worry about monkeys blackening the sky with thrown chairs. Instead, I would ask if it sounds reasonable that Nvidia would want to enter this business, and if so, what does this mean for the computer hardware and software communities, and let Nvidia's legal team figure out what legal strings need to be tied up. They do that all day long anyway.

interesting (2, Insightful)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679655)

though currently, these are only rumors, it would be interesting to see how it will play out if these turn out not to be rumors.

For one, aren't both Intel and AMD having their own problems with anti-trust litigation in various places around the world? (I know Intel and the EU like to go at it)
Intel might just quickly license nVIDIA to do so just so that they can claim that there is no anti-trust going on, especially when there's a 3rd player at the table.

How quickly we forget... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24679661)

Cyrix [wikipedia.org], Texas Instruments [wikipedia.org], IBM [wikipedia.org], NexGen [wikipedia.org], amongst others.

Other companies made clone x86 [wikipedia.org] CPUs as well (The list: IBM, NEC, AMD, TI, STM, Fujitsu, OKI, Siemens, Cyrix, Intersil, C&T, NexGen, and UMC). Intel has never been really successful at prosecuting anyone for creating their own x86 compatible CPU. They won't sue, unless the company is small enough to just give up (Hint: nVidia isn't).

Re:How quickly we forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24680205)

I'm told (pre-AMD) ATI is also on that list

Interesting legal histories (4, Informative)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679715)

Check out the legal histories of AMD v. Intel and VIA/Cyrix v. Intel. These essentially show that there are agreements and settlements all over the place, but few-to-no actual court decisions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VIA_Technologies#Legal_issues [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrix#Legal_troubles [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD#Litigation_with_Intel [wikipedia.org]

It essentially seems that NVIDIA would need to have a patent on something which Intel has produced in order to induce some kind of Mexican standoff, just like the others have.

Re:Interesting legal histories (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680129)

Maybe they can, if we're lucky, get the Alpha processor freed up in the process. I know, whichful thinking...

Re:Interesting legal histories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24680419)

mhm.. i d bet my ass nvidia has a big stock of patents on graphics related stuff. And Intel produced a few graphic chips... mhm.

Re:Interesting legal histories (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680581)

Very likely that they do in the GPU area.

I mean patents can be vague, and I suspect they have a lot of them in that area.

Something I forgot to mention in the summary (5, Interesting)

jdb2 (800046) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679755)

The idea of Nvidia producing an x86 CPU might seem dubious but perhaps not in the light of the fact that Nvidia bought Stexar in 2006. Stexar was a little known and quite secretive startup composed of a large portion of ex-Intel engineers and higher-ups from Intel's Xeon team. Before being swallowed by Nvidia they were intimating that work was being done on some sort of x86 "DSP".

jdb2

A "license" for unrelease, unannounced rumors (3, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679789)

So can someone tell me how anyone outside of NVidia (who isn't quoted here) would know they need a "license" (patents I'm assuming) for a technology that nobody knows anything about, is completely unreleased, and likely doesn't even exist?

This story is complete nonsense. We're all dumber after having read it.

Bad Business decision (0)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#24679897)

Considering they have announced they are getting out of the chip set market, this would seem to be a bad business decision. If they were going to start making their own processors, they should also be making their own chip sets. This would allow them to market "pure nVidia powered" devices. It would allow them to optimize the product lines to work with each other.

Re:Bad Business decision (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680159)

They didn't make that announcement and demanded a retraction. This is just a rumor for now, too, and they may very well do the same.

Re:Bad Business decision (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680355)

I am just saying that it would be a bad business decision considering what they have already announced.

Intel has no reason to refuse (1)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680021)

Actually Intel has one big reason to wish for as many x86 vendors as possible : in case of a collapse of AMD, it would take as many other competitors as possible to keep Intel out of trouble from the anti-trust authorities.

half right (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24680023)

Look guys, here's the facts: Nvidia will be releasing a chip. It won't be x86, though, it will be ARM based (with an fpu and vector unit), running around 1GHZ or more. A couple months ago, ARM Holdings announced a major license agreement (but didn't provide any other specifics). There was a lot of speculation that it was Apple. It's Nvidia.

My source didn't tell me if it's going to be targetted at smart phones, internet tablet pcs, etc.

can you say, "antitrust"? (1)

delong (125205) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680135)

Any attempt to enter the market without a license would bring down Intel legal on them like flying monkeys blackening the sky. It would get ugly. Really ugly.

Particularly when the DOJ gets involved investigating Intel and AMD for antitrust collusion.

Can they produce 45 nm parts? (1)

Jeff1946 (944062) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680297)

Unless they can produce it at 45 nm or less, I don't see how they could compete with Intel, right now AMD is not able to do this so Intel has this technology to themselves for the x86 processors. If they could produce something, as others has mentioned, Intel has to be very careful about not hindering rivals since they are in such a dominant position the market.

Re:Can they produce 45 nm parts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24680411)

AMD is still saying Q4 for 45nm. I sure hope so.

One hot fact (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#24680313)

NVidia hired a guy who was SGI's Chief Engineer last November. He's also done some other very interesting things.

I've worked with him directly in the past (as well as indirectly at SGI), and he is one of the smartest people I know.

If NVidia management lets him be useful, then I think we'll see some interesting things coming out of NVidia. It beats me what their management is like though.

This is really disappointing, because I'm rooting for AMD and their graphics efforts. And because NVidia is well known for their binary blob approach.

How is this possible (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680357)

How can someone own rights on an ISA? Its like saying your own the rights to Esperanto and you going to demand licence fees from everyone who uses it. Languages, conventions, communications protocols etc are not copyrightable and patentable for good reason, only particular works made with them or implementations of them are. An ISA is basically a language or a protocol and the legal consensus is these are not copyrightable, and probably not patentable. We have so many independant implementations of languages and APIs already that are proof of this. In fact very little would work and progress on computer technology would have been stalled if such barriers had existed. From what I can see Nvidia does not have a restriction against an independant implementation of an ISA, and if there is any such restriction, its time it is legally challenged.

Load of Rubbish (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#24680453)

If NVIDIA do anything it will be releasing an update of their Tegra application processor, or showing off the first generation of devices that will be using it.

As the original article even says, NVIDIA don't have a license for creating an x86 compatible CPU. Maybe they are making a non-backwards compatible x86-64 CPU instead! Ha! But why ... VIA have been doing it for years and can't compete. Maybe this is NVIDIA showing off a chipset solution for VIA's Nano, that's more feasible.

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