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Nvidia Waiting In the Wings In FTC-Intel Dispute

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the let-the-chips-fall dept.

Intel 143

The NY Times has a Bits Blog piece speculating on some of the fallout if the FTC prevails in its anti-competition lawsuit against Intel. The Times picks out two among the 26 remedies proposed by the regulator, and concludes that they add up to Nvidia being able to license x86 technology. This could open up 3-way competition in the market for combined CPU-graphics chips. There is a good deal of circumstantial evidence pointing to the possibility that Nvidia has been working on x86 technology since 2007, including the presence on its employment rolls of more than 70 former Transmeta workers.

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Wow. (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502160)

Why does the remedy appear to be more harmful to AMD - an Intel competitor - than to Intel themselves?

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502180)

I don't know, but you're right. Any increased competition from another manufacturer will hurt AMD much more than Intel. AMD already has the bulk of the business from those willing to purchase non-Intel chips and an additional competitor will draw its customers from that group, not from Intel (who enjoys a large loyal following of customers who won't even consider anything else).

Not necessarily. (2, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502358)

If AMD and Nvidia can truly make competitive products, then having more of a non-Intel option makes that option seem much more mainstream.

Re:Not necessarily. (1)

Kemeno (984780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502532)

Not only that, but what if Intel tries to leverage their monopoly to get Nvidia out of their graphics offerings, and instead tries to bundle their processors with their own integrated graphics chipsets? One of the FTC's complaints was that Intel was doing something pretty close to this on their netbook/atom platform. If they tried it on the higher end, I could see that backfiring for them.

A good Nvidia or AMD offering combined with Intel's abuse of their monopoly could lead to their own demise...

Re:Not necessarily. (4, Interesting)

servognome (738846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502822)

Not only that, but what if Intel tries to leverage their monopoly to get Nvidia out of their graphics offerings, and instead tries to bundle their processors with their own integrated graphics chipsets? One of the FTC's complaints was that Intel was doing something pretty close to this on their netbook/atom platform. If they tried it on the higher end, I could see that backfiring for them.

You mean the same way Nvidia has integrated PhysX into their hardware and gone so far as to disable such acceleration if any additional cards made by a competitor are present.
The move to system on a chip is not an anti-competitive practice, it's the way the entire industry works. Third party hardware solutions have long been incorporated into mainstream designs as their silicon requirements decrease. Discrete math coprocessors and memory controllers were devoured by the CPU, video decoding and physics acceleration have been integrated into GPUs.
Why would SoC's from intel be considered anti-competitive, while AMD fusion and Nvidia Tegra, which are essentially the same, be considered innovative?
The FTC needs to consider whether the consumer would really benefit by forcing chipmakers to keep various pieces seperate for the sake of competition. The continued decline in average selling price, combined with the increasing capability of each new generation of microprocessor indicates that consumers are not negatively impacted by such design integration.

Re:Not necessarily. (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503616)

Nvidia already bundles their graphics acceleration with their own processor [nvidia.com] . The Tegra processor has plenty of power for Internet Tablets, with way lower power and overall system cost. I think it would be a terrible mistake for Nvidia to enter the i386 compatible market. They should instead help us build a future without all that baggage.

Re:Wow. (0, Troll)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502376)

Well, maybe a more viable competitor may be bad for AMD but good for the market. AMD has really stagnated in the last few years.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502524)

You are and idiot if you truly believe that. AMD may be a half-step behind, but that's a far cry from stagnant. Really, what new tech has Intel been pushing?

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30503406)

>You are and idiot

I LOL'd

Re:Wow. (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502614)

wha? neither intel nor AMD has stagnated

Re:Wow. (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502756)

Uhhhhh...come again? I was a life long Intel man, going back to the 486, but after building a couple of AMD duals for my customers I just had to switch. Frankly the bang for the buck on the new AMDs is just crazy. I was used to Intel IGPs where you didn't even want to watch a video on the thing until after you got a discrete card put in, and went from that to actually playing games like Bioshock with decent framerates! From a fricking IGP?

The problem is all the reviewers seem to care about is "sorry about your penis" 3DMark and Crysis benchmarks. But as someone who has been building boxes since Win3.x I can tell you the average Joe couldn't care less about that. They want it to be fast for the things they do, like videos, web surfing, etc and frankly the new AMDs have long gone past "good enough" for the vast majority of folks.

The main problem AMD has IMHO is getting the word out. Ruiz was an idiot, and didn't advertise for squat when they had the lead, and frankly most folks don't really know WHAT chips are out there, they have just seen the Intel "bong bong bong bong" commercial. With the economy in the crapper AMD really needs to push the "bang for the buck" mantra and get the word out. Because frankly you can't beat $99 quads, and the new AMD IGPs kick the living snot out of Intel. But for what 95% of the average Joe is doing with their PC an AMD dual is "good enough" and the new quads are downright scary.

Re:Wow. (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503264)

When I recently went to price intel and AMD solutions, I ended up getting MB+CPU for less than intel's CPU with similar performance alone. And we're talking retail "black edition" overclockable CPU, not OEM, and a motherboard with every port I could want (well, OK, there's no fw800 on it) and support for overclocking, which I haven't even messed with yet. AMD's big problem is that they are fighting the perceptual technology leader — not the real one, but the one the public perceives as being there. It's much the same problem that's led to this as that which led to the perception that PowerPC chips were slow back when they were faster than intel chips: there were software problems (keep in mind, I'm talking about the K6 days) which mostly equate to problems with vendors.

Re:Wow. (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503468)

No, Intel has been the real CPU leader since Intel Core came out. They use more advanced manufacturing technology faster. They do their process shrink a year before AMD. AMD still does not use high-k metal gates in their process. AMD's CPU design is also worse in many regards. Less total cache, no macro-op, and micro-op fusion, hyperthreading, etc. Intel's processors are also 4 issue, instead of 3 issue. AMD will only fix these design deficiencies in Bulldozer.

Re:Wow. (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503536)

The intel part is superior only where the intel part costs twice as much or more. AMD is by far the leader in price:performance, regardless of what interconnect technology intel is using. An intel CPU twice as fast costs at least four times as much money, that's not a win!

Re:Wow. (2, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503726)

I think the problem is most folks don't realize how scary fast the new AMDs are at everyday tasks. I took a little of my Xmas money to upgrade from a 7550 ( which frankly was doing everything I wanted it to) to a Quad 925 [newegg.com] and the speed of this thing is just insanity. No matter how much multitasking I do it just keeps on coming, no slowdowns or stutters.

And I built the original 7550 dual for just $525 after rebates, with 8Gb of RAM, a 1Gb 4650, dual burners, and Windows 7 HP x64. It is truly crazy the amount of raw horsepower you can get from AMD with very little $$$. I mean you can get a new quad for $99 [newegg.com] retail! And you can get a dual OEM for just $53 [newegg.com] , and a retail box for just $65 [newegg.com] , it just nuts!

And you're right, when you figure in the cost of a decent motherboard there just isn't any comparison. Like I said I was used to the ultra shit Intel IGPs where you had better get a card in pronto, and I went from that to actually playing Bioshock and SOF:Payback on an IGP? And the video acceleration works REALLY great. Just add Media Player Home Cinema (I prefer the Klite Mega Codec pack, as it sets everything up for DXVA, just check a single checkbox) and you have really nice smooth video with nary a stutter.

The only thing I worried about was all the talk about AMDs being hot, but I found that even under load the stock cooler had never gotten above 107f, and with Cool & Quiet it stays around 88f when I'm doing my day to day. AMD just needs to push the "bang for the buck" mantra IMHO, and get the word out. Because as a life long Intel man I can say without a doubt the new AMDs kick some serious ass without breaking my wallet.

Economy 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502380)

You must have forgotten every you learned in Economic 101.

It is never a zero-sum game.

The more supplies there are for non-Intel alternative, the more the impetus there is for people to look for non-Intel chips BEFORE they look into what Intel has to offer.

Re:Economy 101 (1)

root_42 (103434) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502946)

Exactly, parent is very insightful. The GP's argument really doesn't get to me. But I guess similar thoughts lead to the fact that e.g. the US is factually a two party system. ;)

Cheers

Re:Wow. (-1, Flamebait)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502418)

AMD already has the bulk of the business from those willing to purchase non-Intel chips and an additional competitor will draw its customers from that group,

I doubt that the group of people who prefer inferior AMD hardware just because its not Intel is large enough to make any noticeable dent. Most people just buy what is cheap or what suits their needs and don't base their buying decisions on countering some potential market monopole.

Re:Wow. (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503212)

Don't worry... nVidia will never, or at least not in the near future, be able to make x86 chips that would come even close to Intel's and AMD's performance...

I think nVidia wants to release it's own x86+GPU Ion style platform... They realise that Intel has it's own CPU's and GPU's and AMD has it's own CPU's and GPU's.AMD is their main competitor and if the market is going to shift towards hybrid processing units than this is the only way nVidia can keep up with the competition...

that's rich (0, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502166)

Hah, that's [theinquirer.net] rich. [tomshardware.com]

It's not even real competition. NvIDIA's Chinese foundry'll just release another bad batch, the vendors' Indian and Filipino tech support will just tell their angry customers that it was the customers' fault and to fuck off, NvIdia'll exit the x86 market, and we'll be back to square one. I know this because I've dealt with HP's Magandas over this issue, and they had no shame.

Mods, meet my middle finger.

Re:that's rich (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502176)

It isn't real competition right now, but it's hard to say how long that'll last. It's not just AMD and nVidia that stand to gain, don't forget that TI also is in the business of making chips, and while they aren't competing with Intel right now, they do sell chips that are useful in netbooks.

Re:that's rich (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503216)

What's with all the opposite caps? From their website [nvidia.com] , it looks like the proper casing for nVidia is either nVIDIA or NVIDIA.

Competition is a Good Thing (2, Interesting)

xzvf (924443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502182)

In the long run getting multiple competitors in the CPU space is good. The problem is trust busting worked when the competitors were slow moving oil companies or railroads, by the time this gets through the court system the market will be significantly different. What computer were you using at the turn of the century?

Re:Competition is a Good Thing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502200)

What computer were you using at the turn of the century?

One with an x86 instruction set. Same as now.

Re:Competition is a Good Thing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502222)

What computer were you using at the turn of the century?

One with an x86 instruction set. Same as now.

Fuck you.

RFC 1149 (1)

fred911 (83970) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502270)

What computer were you using at the turn of the century?

RFC 1149 - Standard for the transmission of IP datagrams on avian carriers.

Silly Doncha member??

Re:Competition is a Good Thing (2, Insightful)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502304)

Intel x86. Serving all of us since 1978.

There's no reason to believe that this is going to change. Motorola's 68k never went anywhere, and PowerPC is dead. IBM's Cell went nowhere. AMD? Well they make a clone, and have 15% versus 83% marketshare, and one-fifth the revenue [robabdul.com] . Cyrix? Well they went belly up and got bought by NS, then Via. We're talking scraps. less than 2% of the market here.

Oh yeah, and AMD is teetering into bankruptcy. Primo competitive environment eh?

Re:Competition is a Good Thing (2)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502626)

AMD is teetering out of bankruptcy, and the settlement + extra intel damage = expect AMD to leapfrog intel the next couple generations of cpu's. ARM, if it gains traction, will kill intel's market.

Re:Competition is a Good Thing (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503224)

And Linux will finally be this year's desktop OS!

Re:Competition is a Good Thing (2, Informative)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503594)

Power is dead? Tell that to Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, all of whom are using PPC chips of various kinds in their current generation consoles.

Cell is basically a PPC core with a bunch of specialist number-crunching coprocessors attached. And its by no means dead unless you consider the fact that a Cell CPU is found in every one of the 27 million and counting PS3 systems out there as being dead.

I will grant that PPC is dead as a desktop CPU with x86 being the only viable solution at this point for mainstream general purpose computers.

Re:Competition is a Good Thing (3, Insightful)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502308)

Since we are still stuck with Unix 40 years later and still will be 40 years from now, I can see that we could be still stuck with x86 for a long time. To the Computer Science graduate, they are flawed designs, but in the real world they work and work good enough not to merit a costly change.

Yes there are CPU architectures, but are they significantly better to warrant a change? Even Apple after touting the merits of PowerPC succumbed to the x86 train. Even Intel tried multiple times to bring an alternative to its x86 line (iAPX, i860, i960, Itanium), but without success. RHEL abandoning Itanium is one more example. Sun offers x86 hardware in addition to its SPARC line, so does IBM and HP, and every other server vendor. There were a time when x86 was laughed at and not considered server-class. Now most servers and super computers use x86 processors.

In the Unix-haters handbook, the refer to the original Macintosh OS as a better OS with better GUI than Unix and X, now Mac OS X is Unix, and if you jailbreak and ssh into your iPhone you'll find a familiar Unix under all the eye candy. Most servers either run Unix or Linux, so does most super computers. All assumed flaws of the Unix architecture accounted for nothing in the real world.

Re:Competition is a Good Thing (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502338)

stuck with Unix"

Seems to me we're stuck with Windows

"The X server has to be the biggest program I've ever seen that doesn't do anything for you." -- Ken Thompson

I wonder if Ken has ever seen Vista?

Re:Competition is a Good Thing (1)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502502)

Don't get me wrong, I love Unix. Maybe "stuck" was the wrong term. I never claimed to be an English major. If you read my whole post, you'd have got the message that I believe x86 and Unix are more than good enough and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Seems to me we're stuck with Windows

"The X server has to be the biggest program I've ever seen that doesn't do anything for you." -- Ken Thompson

I wonder if Ken has ever seen Vista?

Yeah, I'm stuck with Windows at work. I go home to Mac OS X and Linux/X/GNU goodness, my main machine runs BlackBox on top of Debian.

My signature is a tongue-in-cheek comment, I don't expect people to take it too seriously. Just like x86 and Unix, X is not perfect but good enough, and will continue to be in use for a long time.

Intel's ill-gotten-gains (3, Interesting)

distantbody (852269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502220)

Intel effectively defrauded AMD of many billions of dollars in revenue. Intel should be forced to return those ill-gotten-gains to AMD and THEN be fined.

In the near future if AMD goes bankrupt (possible given their current uncertain situation) and Intel's unlawful actions could reasonably be considered to have led to the demise of their main competitor (AMD), Intel shouldn't be allowed to live with the benefits of their wrong-doing, namely a monopoly, and instead be forced to establish an equivalent competitor. The FTC may indeed be acting along these lines as Nvidia could possibly be a capable CPU producer.

Re:Intel's ill-gotten-gains (2, Interesting)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502558)

Intel will be screwed if AMD goes bankrupt and the patents on a large part of the x86 tech fall into the hands of someone who has no desire to make x86 chips.
Currently they cross license to avoid a patent war. AMD going bankrupt will screw Intel over big time.

Re:Intel's ill-gotten-gains (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502980)

yeah right because intel won't simply buy up AMD's patents for cents on the dollar.

Re:Intel's ill-gotten-gains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30503020)

Without AMDs patents you can't make modern x86 chips.
In the hands of a blackmailing patent troll AMDs patents are worth the ability to shut down the entire x86 market.

Just like everyone else Intel would have to pay the worth for them.

Re:Intel's ill-gotten-gains (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30504216)


yeah right because intel won't simply buy up AMD's patents for cents on the dollar.

Because there aren't other companies that specialize in purchasing the patents of companies in order to sue the dominant manufacturer?

Re:Intel's ill-gotten-gains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30504328)

Currently they cross license to avoid a patent war. AMD going bankrupt will screw Intel over big time.

I doubt it. Intel has just received a new patent cross licensing agreement with AMD as a result of the Global Foundries deal. I can't imagine a scenario where a bankruptcy judge would revoke those agreements.

Re:Intel's ill-gotten-gains (1)

kubrick (27291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503094)

Yeah, and back in the real world, what real restitution have Microsoft provided for violations equal to (if not worse than) Intel's?

Re:Intel's ill-gotten-gains (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503412)

We have legal precedent in this case: look up how the Feds went after United Shoe Machinery Company in the first half of the 20th Century. United Shoe was notorious for using its patent portfolio on shoe-machine machinery to drive out competitors, just as Intel is using its CPU and motherboard chipset patents to keep AMD/ATI at bay.

We could see Intel hit with a multi-billion dollar fine and be forced to share information on x86 CPU and motherboard chipset technology with AMD and nVidia.

Re:Intel's ill-gotten-gains (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503598)

One good thing is motherboard chipsets are becoming irrelevant. At least in the desktop and mobile segment. Intel's increasingly bundling the north bridge with the CPU package. The next quarter you will see several 32nm processor releases [wikipedia.org] which will make this more evident.

Still, if I was the FTC, I would force Intel to do two things: license the X86 ISA and its extensions, plus the CPU bus interface to all comers in a RAND basis.

Re:Intel's ill-gotten-gains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30504212)

AMD ain't goin bankrupt. See, we have this wonderful thing called the stock market. Anytime a company needs more money they have what's called a secondary offering. And investors are more than happy to keep throwing good money after bad.

Re:Intel's ill-gotten-gains (1)

GeckoAddict (1154537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30504360)

Didn't AMD just win a billion dollars from Intel in a lawsuit? Maybe it's not the billions that they were 'defrauded', but it seems like that its seperate from any fines from the FTC.

Ugg... (2, Insightful)

g0dsp33d (849253) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502238)

I'm jaded enough to realize someone says so and so will be getting into the CPU market soon every few months. I've heard Creative and NVIDIA, probably some others I've forgotten. The thing that stands out to me is that VIA gave up. IBM gave up. Motorola gave up. Maybe the FTC can change things, but if they do it will probably break a few patent laws apart or force some fairly broad cross licensing agreements. Anything monetary is really just some fodder for the bankers to burn.

Re:Ugg... (4, Informative)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502260)

IBM gave up?

16-core 4GHz processor modules would like to have a word with you.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/POWER7 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ugg... (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502910)

That wiki page says it will come in 4, 6 and 8 core processors.

Re:Ugg... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502978)

Yes, with up to 2 chips per module, allows 16 core configurations (1 [morefreeinformation.com] ).

Re:Ugg... (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503628)

The first Intel "quad core" processors (Intel Core 2 Quad) came in a multi-chip module with 2 chips per module, 2 cores per chip. So if that was a 4 core, POWER 7 is 16 core.

Re:Ugg... (3, Informative)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502262)

VIA is still at it, they're just attacking the Atom end of the market, now. This is where they were before Atom came along, but they have been developing newer processors.

Re:Ugg... (1)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502506)

The market that could very well turn to ARM?
I don't see much of a future for Via. I'm not being a troll, it is just my observation.

Re:Ugg... (1, Insightful)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502768)

ARM's problem is, quite simply, they don't have Windows, and to get the desktop, they either have to wait 10 years (and pay Microsoft to maintain a Windows port for that entire time) for a Windows port to take root, or displace Windows, too.

I don't see the latter happening.

Re:Ugg... (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503228)

I don't think ARM supports 64-bit addressing, either. For most things that doesn't matter, but for netbook type machines, it's going to become an issue in the next 5 years at most.

Re:Ugg... (2, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503646)

Even if you port Windows, you still need applications. Otherwise you are better off using a Linux distro where you can recompile the apps most people use yourself.

Re:Ugg... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30504150)

Or you use Transmetta's tech to run x86 on ARM...

Re:Ugg... (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503560)

The problem with the switch to ARM is that for the kind of grunt you need in these sorts of machines (vs a MP3 player or a cellphone or whatever), the price difference between ARM and x86 is not big enough for consumers to pick the ARM option.

Re:Ugg... (2, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502294)

It seems you forgot ARM processors...this tiny, insignificant part of the market which, by now, perhaps ships more CPUs annually than Intel has ever produced.

Re:Ugg... (-1, Troll)

FrankSchwab (675585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502344)

Let me know when I can boot Windows 7 on an ARM processor....

Oh, wait, aren't ARM processors those things that run my phone, that are barely fast enough to swap a task or open a window without latency on a 320x240 display?

The processors that take us back in time (and processor performance) to the Pentium Pro 200?

Yeah, it does seem like he forgot about them. For a good reason.

Re:Ugg... (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502366)

You're an idiot. There is no way in hell that a quad-2GHz ARM is significantly slower than any low-end or mid-range Intel x86 offerings.

Re:Ugg... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502402)

A quad-2ghz arm would be on par with a P3-500.

Re:Ugg... (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502566)

You're an idiot. There is no way in hell that a quad-2GHz ARM is significantly slower than any low-end or mid-range Intel x86 offerings.

And you know this because... you have used one, right? The one you bought from a major retailer?

Oh.

Re:Ugg... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502636)

arm processors have gone through progression of speeds significantly faster than x86. Considering that we are looking at 800mhz arm processors (from 500 2 years ago) which are more efficient in ways than x86, you might want to think about how well these 800mhz processors can multitask a phonecall with instant messaging and other things considering the speed difference. RISC is very very efficient, a huge difference from x86.

Re:Ugg... (2, Informative)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502460)

What's the profit margin on those ARM CPUs? How much does each individual chip sell for? Oh, right, there's very little profits and the chips are dirt cheap...

Re:Ugg... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502500)

This only means ARM isn't ripping you off. Doesn't change the simple fact that they are hugely successful (and also profitable, of course)

Re:Ugg... (2, Informative)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502674)

ARM itself has a market cap of 3.5 billion. Intel is worth, according to the market, 108 billion. Relatively speaking, ARM is a failure and doesn't make much money compared to Intel.

Re:Ugg... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502752)

That's a US CEOs definition of "failure" at most.

Interestingly, a market that Intel is eager to get into (remember their claims about future of Atom? Licensing its IP on a similar terms to ARM cores?)

Re:Ugg... (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502788)

It is a reasonable definition. According to those numbers, Intel could purchase all of ARM from petty cash.

Re:Ugg... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502828)

Intel could purchase almost every individual company on the planet. It doesn't make most companies on the planet a failure in any way.

Arguing that ARM is not successful in light of their very positive situation - yes, that is unreasonable.

ARM and Intel are simply different. Which also influences the thing that you can't really compare their "market capitalization" directly. ARM is an IP company. How much is IP part of Intel worth? How should we include in comparisons fabs, chips & OEM manufacturers that are part of ARM ecosystem but obviously not ARM? (while Intel does those things itself, to greater or lesser degree)

Re:Ugg... (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502960)

The market has decided that the all of ARM is only worth 3.5 bil, including the IP. Now, that measures the ability of ARM to extract wealth from it's intellectual property. This does NOT mean that ARM's true worth to society as a whole is really 33 times less than Intel. I think that's what you are getting at. And of course "the market" is not really the omniscient entity that economists like to model it as, but more like an unruly mob of sheeple. Still, investors do try to put their money where they think money is to be made, and those investors evidently don't have as much confidence in ARM.

Re:Ugg... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30503012)

Remember, ARM only licenses core designs to other chipmakers... They don't actually manufacture anything at all! If you include ARM-related revenue in all the companies that actually make ARM-powered SoC:s I expect you would get a very much bigger number. Still maybe not bigger than Intel, but much more comparable.

Re:Ugg... (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30504388)

but Unlike Intel, what is ARM's debts? Almost no-existent AFAIK because they simply don't produce much more then the actual Design of the CPU and own the patents. What's the difference between ARM and x86? Simply put, it's who can produce the damn things. Unlike the current x86 issue (Intel/AMD) there are so many ARM producers that even if one of the fails and goes bankrupt, the market is hardly impacted due to the numbers and ease of gaining a license but if either Intel or AMD goes bankrupt, you have the real possibility of patent trolls being able to buy critical patents and literally shuting all x86 production down, which is the issue the FTC is looking at.

Personally, I'd prefer to see them force Intel to release everyting from the i586 and earlier on licence terms similar to how ARM does. If they did, it would expand the market around the P3 and earlier processors enough to ensure a reasonable level of diversity and competition.

BumP (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502518)

What's the profit margin on those ARM CPUs? How much does each individual chip sell for? Oh, right, there's very little profits and the chips are dirt cheap...

This is what I came to say.
If you look at the stocks of ARM [google.com] & Intel [google.com] , you'll notice a massive disparity in their trading volumes.
Intel sometimes trades more stock in an hour than ARM does in a day.
Yes ARM sells billions of chips, but the margins are barely there.

ARM licenses, not fabs (1)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502686)

What exactly are you trying to infer from the trading volumes? It just looks like more people are trading Intel because Intel is a bigger company. Also, the link to ARM you posted is for an ADR [wikipedia.org] , so Google might not even be including the numbers from the native exchange. And above all the, the only thing a heavily traded stock should mean is a low bid-ask spread

Finally, ARM doesn't sell any chips. They design them, and license the cores to companies that fab them, ie TI, Nvidia, and even Intel.

Re:Ugg... (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503668)

Intel has less profit margin in their X86 processor division than IBM has in their S/390 mainframe division as well.

Re:Ugg... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502328)

There a ton more than just x86 parts on the market. Little endianness FTL.

Re:Ugg... (1)

gedw99 (1597337) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503088)

I agree. There are many potential players in the market that will get involved once the licensing issues are removed.

The internet has become so important to the the world daily lives, and yet a huge percentage of it is dependent on a platforms that is monopolized. Thats very dangerous.

Stirring up this pot, will have huge unknown ramifications in the world of computing in general.
For example, ARM dual core CPUS are getting to the point of competing with Intel Atoms. This will put pressure on the ARM platform then if many more intel CPU and chipset producers exist.

Another aspect is the environment. More competition will allow many players to enter the market to build cpus and chipsets that use much less amps and volts. This is really so important now as electricity prices go up and up.
I remember reading that the high use of electricity is not in intels chips, but more in their chipset.

Re:Ugg... (1)

blade.labs (1327629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503516)

Motorola's chip division is now called Freescale semiconductor and their portfolio of 32bit processors is quite rich http://www.freescale.com/webapp/sps/site/homepage.jsp?nodeId=0162468rH3 [freescale.com] . Granted, most of them are not suitable for a PC, but some are - and yes, they do run Linux ;).

Yeah, well see if they end up going through (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502408)

The investment it takes to start up a new chip line is enormous. To some extent, CPU manufacturing is like the classic steel mill example in economics: The start up cost is so massive that monopolies become very hard to break once someone is has most of the market. This is true not just for chip manufacturing but even to individual classes of chips (such as x86 architecture). If I were running Nvidia right now I'd be very worried about entering a market with massive start up cost and where most buyers will continue to go to Intel simply by default.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502410)

As a 49 year old feminist grandmother I reject this license as it's caucasian male in nature and spirit.

My cyrix processor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502484)

is getting rather dated. My Geode is a little dusty too.

Is x86 shit? (4, Interesting)

some_guy_88 (1306769) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502490)

We've been using this instruction set for years and years now. There's gotta be something better around by now. Is it ARM? Cell?

Are Microsoft and Windows the only reasons we haven't moved on? How hard would it be for them to target a different architecture? Linux seems to manage fine in this regard. Rewrite a bit of assembly and choose a different c compiler. Shouldn't be too hard right?

Re:Is x86 shit? (2, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502530)

No, there doesnt really have to be something better. There are many ways to view things, and certainly x86 is one of the ugliest instruction sets still in use.

But the modern x86 architecture has almost all the key features that make processors faster, and x64 has the one thing that x86 lacked (gratuitous amounts of registers)

Re:Is x86 shit? (5, Insightful)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502580)

It's just an instruction set.

The modern CPUs you call x86s use a non-x86 core with an instruction decoder bolted on to make it run the x86 instruction set. It has been that way since the Pentium Pro, the NextGen chips and the AMD K5.
The AMD K5 in particular was pretty much identical to the Am29000 RISC processor. AMD just put a decoder on it and sold it as an x86.

CISC type instruction sets are considered to be the most optimal for code density (better cache and memory usage). So we pretty much have the best of both worlds. The instruction set is CISC so we get the memory benefits and the code is run as RISC via an instruction decoder which makes it easier to pipeline and for parallelism.

Re:Is x86 shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502784)

It's just an instruction set.

Well, it's a bit more than that. Those bits and pieces to support the facade of x86 arch bolted onto a RISC core don't come cheap power-wise and aren't very efficient. And that's not counting all the other bits and pieces to hide the cache from joe programmer. Yikes!

Anyway, I've heard the "it's really RISC with a x86 instruction decoder" stories but I don't know if it's true. Ya, ya, "instructions are broken into micro-ops and pipelined and decoded" etc., etc. What CPU doesn't do that? Nobody really knows the insides except for engs at Intel. It sounds like something a marketing dept. would say during the heights of a RISC vs CISC war. It might be a sound-bite that stuck.

Re:Is x86 shit? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30503004)

Well it gets a little easier to argue it is a RISC core when they actually release a CPU that's the RISC version of an x86, such as in the aforementioned AMD K5 being an Am29000.
While there's no absolute line between what counts as RISC and what counts as CISC, all x86s released today are more RISCy than a direct to silicon version of their entire instruction set. They really couldn't do it natively these days.

As for power savings running in the native RISC code or via a decoder, well the decoder is a very small percentage of a typical CPUs real-estate and it does more than just translate anyway (it's what allows for superscalar execution, etc. -even low power embedded CPUs have an instruction decoder of some sort these days).
There is a way in which the x86 does lose out to other architectures in terms of power efficiency though. It simply doesn't have the mechanisms to scale its speed up and down as required. eg. ARM has PLL registers and run levels to set its clock rate at run time and a way for interrupts to quickly turn the CPU on, execute and turn it back off again. The x86 will never have those features (kind of hard to put something like that in without breaking backwards compatibility).

Re:Is x86 shit? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503746)

RISC was a fad. It had its uses at a point, but no one really does RISC processors anymore. IBM POWER also does more involved instruction decoding than you will find in your RISC hardware design handbook. POWER 6 has several instructions which take more than 1 clock cycle to execute. POWER 6 has microcode. Intel Core has micro-op fusion. Load/store architectures aren't hot anymore.

The top two leading architecture segments in terms of $$$ are X86 and S/360, both CISC designs. ARM is supposedly RISC, but uses Thumb to compress instructions so they use less memory space.

Re:Is x86 shit? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30504416)

This idea that nobody knows whats inside is bullshit.

The assembly language community pretty much has the architecture down cold, and by architecture I do not mean the instruction set. See Agner Fog, for instance.

Re:Is x86 shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502592)

Are Microsoft and Windows the only reasons we haven't moved on? How hard would it be for them to target a different architecture? Linux seems to manage fine in this regard. Rewrite a bit of assembly and choose a different c compiler. Shouldn't be too hard right?

In Linux/BSD most projects are distributed as source code. Thus it is relatively easy to simply recompile most user software to run on a different CPU.

In Windows, of course, traditionally everything comes as a binary. To switch to another instruction set, users would have to either buy all new software, or run everything they've already invested in in a virtualized environment (with lower performance).

.NET, though, has kinda changed this around in recent years. With more and more software being written in .NET, Windows gets a bigger and bigger set of easily cross-architecture software. All MS would have to do is port .NET itself. In the past, I have wondered if part of the plan for .NET all along was to give MS a way to support non-x86 CPUs.

Re:Is x86 shit? (4, Informative)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502622)

There have been quite a few different architectures, all supported by Microsoft and Windows.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerPC [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IA64 [wikipedia.org]

Even though Microsoft abandon PowerPC long ago (XBox excluded), they still support IA64 to this day.

The biggest problem hasn't really been vendor support, but compatibility. PowerPC held Apple back for the longest time because users had no good solutions for running x86 Windows apps when needed, whereas now they have WINE and native booting. IA64, while having some x86 compatibility, does not have clear enough benefits for consumers, and generally runs existing apps slower.

Ironically enough, AMD pretty much killed IA64 and gave x86 a longer life when they came out with x86-64, thus cutting off Intel's attempts to replace x86. Smart business decision for AMD, but it hampered attempts to replace x86.

Re:Is x86 shit? (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502652)

We've been using this instruction set for years and years now. There's gotta be something better around by now. Is it ARM? Cell?

Actually, it's just the opposite. There WERE plenty of better architectures in the early days of x86. Today, x86 is just simply THE chip. The one that's left, competing for the high-end, pushing economies of scale, being all things to all people, and most importantly, with a healthy ecosystem of competitors continually trying to one-up each other.

Everything but the kitchen sink gets thrown into x86, to try to increase performance on various tasks. If there was a better chip out there, it would get integrated into x86 in no time. FPUs come to mind. x86-64 and SIMD instructions come to mind. GPUs seem to be the next big deal, with AMD looking to have an x86-64 CPU in one socket and a GPU in the other...

In short, if anything better comes along, it will quickly get integrated to Intel/AMD/VIA CPUs, and then there once again won't be anything "better"...

Re:Is x86 shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502832)

Are Microsoft and Windows the only reasons we haven't moved on?

yes

I'm still going my original guess for NVIDIA (1, Interesting)

Akir (878284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502562)

I still think they're using Transmeta's engineers to run x86 code on their GPUs so they can get Windows to run on systems with other ISAs for their CPU. ARM and POWER, anyone? It sounds much cheaper and simpler than doing the insane amount of testing needed to roll out a new chip, and you'd get the added benefit of accellerating your everyday applications without needing to recompile them for CUDA. Plus NVIDIA will have the advantage of being the first ones out there with SSE5. So BAM!

Why would NVIDIA do this though? (2, Insightful)

Vigile (99919) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502578)

I posted some of my thoughts on this topic here:

http://www.pcper.com/comments.php?nid=8143 [pcper.com]

Why would NVIDIA want to dive into such a complex product line when the GPU is becoming more and more important in general purpose computing anyway and that is obviously where their expertise is.

Re:Why would NVIDIA do this though? (1)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502670)

I agree and Windows should support some sort of DirectX standard for accelerating the OS on graphics cards (and I mean more then the GUI in Vista/7 lol)

Would be nice to put that power to use for things like video conversion (I know you already can do this in a limited fashion but if it was coded into some sort of framework things would go better)

I know Flash just got some beta support for hardware acceleration so thats at least some improvement.

By the way awesome article, I am more of an ATI man myself but I give Nvidia the the nod for being way ahead in the "Do more then just games" department. I have faith ATI will get on the bandwagon in all this too.

Just too much of a selling point for your high end cards and some value add for your high end stuff, also it has to hurt the high end sales when even your low end cards can play almost any game (sacrifice some settings)

I hope my post was not too rambling its late and I is tired lol

Re:Why would NVIDIA do this though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30502710)

Because a full platform (CPU + GPU + Chipset) is *WAY* more lucrative, business wise, than just GPUs. Sure, it is risky, but NVidia's aspirations have always been to rule the world. Nvidia is currently running the risk of being completely marginalized. They lost Intel chipsets, AMD chipsets, and AMD is currently smoking them on the GPU front.

If you believe Nvidia's GPUPU story, then the majority of heavy processing will be on a GPU-like processor array. What is missing is a scalar control module to control the parallel processing array. You could disagree with this view, but Sony shares this view (this is exactly what the Cell is), so does AMD
(its Fusion rumors) and so does Intel (Exoskeleton, Larrabee).

Now, as big as Nvidia's vision and ambition is, they are definitely not foolish enough to think that they can completely re-write Windows (or get Microsoft to support a new instruction set), the applications (including all of the games that made Nvidia so much money) and gain the market share to complete with Microsoft. This is where an X86 CPU rumor comes into play.

If Nvidia could use a fab partner to make the parts (i.e. TSMC, which is 40nm for its GPUs), and performance only needs to be Atom 330 levels (doesn't have to compete with the latest Core i7 parts or Phenom, remember the GPU-like processing array is for heavy lifting), then Nvidia has a pretty compelling story. The only issue in the matter is an X86 license.

There is the small matter of implementing the CPU, but the legal issues have always been prohibitive. I'd be stunned if Nvidia had the cajones to sink engineering resources into building an X86 CPU and gambling on the outcome of the AMD and FTC lawsuits. If they have Transmeta people, they could be doing the translation thing by implementing their mobile CPU (currently ARM based, but could be translation based) as a scalable part with low end, mid range, high end (where a high end is Atom 330 like performance), with only incremental effort to do X86 (not small, but certianly *way* smaller than a new CPU).

Who knows what is going to happen. I could be talking completely out of my ass. What I do know that Nvidia won't take the erosion of their market lying down.

Dumb Blog, And Not At All Correct (2, Interesting)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30502720)

I suppose the NYT could be right, in the sense that they see NVIDIA getting an x86 license out of this in the same way that conspiracy theorists see that the Apollo 11 landings were filmed on a soundstage.

There's nothing about remedy 17 or remedy 18 that would lead to NVIDIA getting an x86 license directly from Intel. In short:

17: Intel has to license its chipset buses to other companies (e.g. NVIDIA) so that they can make chipsets for Intel's newest CPUs. NVIDIA only has an AGTL+ license for older Core 2 CPUs, they don't have one for DMI (low-end and mid-range Core i3/i5/i7) or QPI (high-end Core i7).

18: Intel can't get in the way of AMD's efforts to spin off their fabs in to Global Foundries. Up until AMD and Intel inked their own settlement, Intel intended to enforce provisions of AMD's x86 license that required them to do the vast majority of production in-house, which wasn't going to be possible if they spun-off their fabs.

The only way NVIDIA could end up with an x86 license out of this is that remedy 18 would allow VIA to transfer their x86 license, and in reality Intel has never fully acknowledged them having one. VIA only gets away with it because they have a couple of patents that are critical to Itanium, and those patents should be expiring soon.

So I don't know why the NYT is claiming that NVIDIA is going to get an x86 license out of this. This seems to be wild dreaming, or an attempt to generate traffic with ridiculous claims.

Re:Dumb Blog, And Not At All Correct (1)

gedw99 (1597337) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503102)

Wow thats a very informative view.
NVIDIA has a license, but cant outsource it or join with others in outsourcing it.
NVIDIA has a licence to make low end based chipsets and cpus.

The way NVIDIA are heating their architecture is going to look a lot like the Sony cell architecture - One small CPU to do the marshaling of work off to the GPU cores.

Which begs the questions. Where are their current legal roadblocks ?

Re:Dumb Blog, And Not At All Correct (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503282)

The way NVIDIA are heating their architecture is going to look a lot like the Sony cell architecture

I don't think so. The GPU would have to be an even bigger part of the PC experience and the economy is likely to get worse before it gets better if we don't get some more jobs. Since outsourcing is not slowing down, I don't see it. That's what they're trying to accomplish, though.

PS3 vs. Xbox 360 proves that the Cell approach is neither necessary nor desirable. It has been kicking the shit out of developers.

Re:Dumb Blog, And Not At All Correct (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503794)

AFAIK most X86 patents are hardware design patents. This is why Transmeta was able to sell their CPUs in the market. The hardware was little like X86, most of that part was software emulation.

A lot of the original X86 patents have expired and new processors are based on X86-64. AMD was the designer of X86-64 so I suppose they hold most of the patents. AMD has been quite liberal at licensing X86-64 in the past to companies such as VIA and yes, even Transmeta.

PS: NVIDIA already has a X86 CPU. When they bought ULi they got their very own 386 SoC chip. Heh.

Go get a room, you two! (1)

Dzonatas (984964) | more than 4 years ago | (#30503742)

NVidia and Intel have been at it for awhile, it's about time.

Somehow this supposed battle seems more wanted then they want to admit. What's the worse, they might join forces together?

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