Plausible: Nvidia Working on x86 CPU

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gwellin

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I could be wrong but isn't x86 32-bit? I would think if you're going to invest a crapload of money into developing a new chip, shouldn't you probably do a 64-bit one? Unless you think 32-bit is going to be around forever.
 

dragabain

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My two cents (I'm no expert and I don't work in IT) is that Nvidia is working on a hardware decoder to turn x86 commands into something its Graphics cards can handle. That way they can throw 2, 3 or 4 cards in a computer and not need a processor. Also this makes it so they don't have to ask the community to recompile their programs for their arch.
 
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[citation][nom]saljr[/nom]What about merging with AMD/ATI?[/citation]


Do you want a monopoly in the graphics card sector? Because if they merge, that is what you'll have. Remember in 2006 when AMD/ATI didn't have a GPU that could compete with the nVidia 8 series? $400 8800GTS 640MB graphics cards for almost a year was the result. nVidia didn't come out with a single GPU that was noticeably better than the 8800GTX for 2 years because they didn't have to.

nVidia merging with AMD/ATI would be just as bad as AMD going under and Intel being the only CPU maker.
 
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Well, x86 now generally refers to the instruction set supported by CPUs used in PCs (and now Mac too). On the other hand, if NVIDIA is building a x86 CPU, this should be top secret, and you have to wonder how likely it is that an NVIDIA hater like Charlie at the Inquirer would have access to that. NVIDIA may be hiring engineers with CPU experience, but given AMD's layoff and mandatory pay cut for everyone, isn't that normal for any company looking to hire at this time? If you're looking for an hardware engineer with good experience, you're going to have many candidates who are current or former AMD engineers.
 

gwolfman

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[citation][nom]dragabain[/nom]My two cents (I'm no expert and I don't work in IT) is that Nvidia is working on a hardware decoder to turn x86 commands into something its Graphics cards can handle. That way they can throw 2, 3 or 4 cards in a computer and not need a processor. Also this makes it so they don't have to ask the community to recompile their programs for their arch.[/citation]
I'd guess something similar. If they can use the x86 CPU as the co-processor of some sort, then translate it into GPGPU commands, then the GPU can run any program available. Who knows...
 

StupidRabbit

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[citation][nom]dragabain[/nom]My two cents (I'm no expert and I don't work in IT) is that Nvidia is working on a hardware decoder to turn x86 commands into something its Graphics cards can handle. That way they can throw 2, 3 or 4 cards in a computer and not need a processor. Also this makes it so they don't have to ask the community to recompile their programs for their arch.[/citation]

now THAT would be interesting to see. even if it would require a new motherboard design.
 

hellwig

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What legal means does Intel use to restrict x86 licenses? Any patent would have expired in the 90's. It's certainly not a trade secret, it has to be the most documented architecture out there. I doubt copyright applies to a computer architecture. Therefore, couldn't NVIDIA create an x86-compatible chip, and simply avoid any trademarked names and be fine, if they are indeed creating a x86 compatible chip to begin with.
 

pug_s

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I would imagine that Nvidia would do something with Via since they don't have an x86 license. The recent news of the ION platform only require a slow Atom processor, they would easily substitute with a Via C7 processor instead. Another thing to note is that the patent for a 486 processor (remember those?) are set to expire this year. Nvidia could probably make a 486 like processor clocked at 1.6ghz easily.
 

ph3412b07

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[citation][nom]hellwig[/nom]What legal means does Intel use to restrict x86 licenses? Any patent would have expired in the 90's. It's certainly not a trade secret, it has to be the most documented architecture out there. I doubt copyright applies to a computer architecture. Therefore, couldn't NVIDIA create an x86-compatible chip, and simply avoid any trademarked names and be fine, if they are indeed creating a x86 compatible chip to begin with.[/citation]

Not entirely true, you can't just steal x86 architecture and market it in your own products, which is why AMD has an agreement with Intel for x86 licensing. Nvidia is not about to resort to piracy. However acquiring a x86 license must be an issue of importance to Nvidia. Without it, they just may be at a dead end, or as mentioned in the article have to deal with loopholes/legal settlements.
 
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I suspect it's no more than a negotiating move, to get Intel to renew their bus license agreement which, IIRC, expired recently. That said, Nvidia is getting squeezed between ATI/AMD (which ended Nvidia's plump marins with the 48xx introductions ... more to come), and Intel with the soon-to-arrive Larabee (graphics on a processor chip) introduction. Tough. Couldn't happen to a better bunch of people. First they pematurely life-shorten 8xxx series chips with "bump" circuit flaws (I'm two 8600GT's down on that count alone, days after warranty expired), and then they have the nerve to rename those lemons twice (to 9xxx and now GTX2xx). I hope they (corporately) disappear forever.
 
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nVidia will be VIA's high-end CPU collaboration.

The 64 bit extension to x86, sometimes IA-64 or AMD64 or EM64T or "x86-64" is still part of x86. I'd assume if nVidia is working on an x86 chip then it will have 64bit extensions and SSE/2/3 and possible 4 compatibility. Or maybe they will offload the SSE (SIMD) functions to their GPUs.
 

hellwig

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[citation][nom]ph3412b07[/nom]Not entirely true, you can't just steal x86 architecture and market it in your own products, which is why AMD has an agreement with Intel for x86 licensing. Nvidia is not about to resort to piracy. However acquiring a x86 license must be an issue of importance to Nvidia. Without it, they just may be at a dead end, or as mentioned in the article have to deal with loopholes/legal settlements.[/citation]
But you didn't answer my question, what exactly would NVIDIA be stealing? "x86 architecture" isn't something that can be stolen, its just a phrase. Did Intel Patent their architecture (in which case it already expired). Did they copyright the architecture, and in that case, what exactly did they copyright? Remember, you patent ideas, and copyright works.

I'm not saying NVIDIA should circumvent the law, I just don't understand what "law" is at work here.
 

tayb

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[citation][nom]hellwig[/nom]But you didn't answer my question, what exactly would NVIDIA be stealing? "x86 architecture" isn't something that can be stolen, its just a phrase. Did Intel Patent their architecture (in which case it already expired). Did they copyright the architecture, and in that case, what exactly did they copyright? Remember, you patent ideas, and copyright works.I'm not saying NVIDIA should circumvent the law, I just don't understand what "law" is at work here.[/citation]

Intel owns x86. It is theirs. The instruction set was designed and patented by Intel. They can license it away as they choose and they are choosing not to license it away to Nvidia.
 

pug_s

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[citation][nom]cpu@cpucom[/nom]nVidia will be VIA's high-end CPU collaboration.The 64 bit extension to x86, sometimes IA-64 or AMD64 or EM64T or "x86-64" is still part of x86. I'd assume if nVidia is working on an x86 chip then it will have 64bit extensions and SSE/2/3 and possible 4 compatibility. Or maybe they will offload the SSE (SIMD) functions to their GPUs.[/citation]

The problem is that SSE2,3,4/3Dnow instructions are mixed up between Intel and AMD so it would be impossible for nvidia get license to produce processors with those high end instructions. I doubt that Nvidia is going to make a standalone high end processor that would compete of the likes of Intel/AMD. I would imagine that they would cross license an low end x86 processor or create their own low end processor to skirt any patents. They will combine it with their Ion platform in a single die and make it like AMD's fusion processors for netbooks and set up boxes for a cheap pricce.
 

exit2dos

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[citation][nom]hellwig[/nom]But you didn't answer my question, what exactly would NVIDIA be stealing? "x86 architecture" isn't something that can be stolen, its just a phrase. Did Intel Patent their architecture (in which case it already expired). Did they copyright the architecture, and in that case, what exactly did they copyright? Remember, you patent ideas, and copyright works.I'm not saying NVIDIA should circumvent the law, I just don't understand what "law" is at work here.[/citation]

While you're right that Inellectual Property (In this case, it falls under Industrial Property) patents expire after 20 years, many new patents are filed with each uarch. nVidia may be able to use instructions from the orignal 8086/8088 line - but each jump in technology has granted new patented CPU instructions and technology. Here is a list of a few of the patents such as DSP, Multiscalar, Multiprocessor arrangements, Bus commands, etc:

http://www.wipo.int/tools/en/gsearch.html?cx=000395567151317721298:aqrs59qtjb0&cof=FORID:11&q=x86#1290
 

pug_s

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[citation][nom]tayb[/nom]Intel owns x86. It is theirs. The instruction set was designed and patented by Intel. They can license it away as they choose and they are choosing not to license it away to Nvidia.[/citation]

Not true. Patents only have a 20 year shelf life. The patent to the 486 processor will expire this year. So Nvidia can develop a processor based on the 486 processor as their own, as long as it doesn't violate any patents from AMD and Intel.
 
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Sadly, its more politics than it is technology and work. That's really too bad for the consumer. I can't believe the x86 architecture can have rights after this long. I mean, this is a long long time. Plus, who is to say that x86 is the best? If we were all using Linux, the x86 would not be such an issue and then nVidia would be free to JUST CREATE SOME SUPER AWESOME HARDWARE and not worry about old x86 compatibility.
 
yea its going to be tough. they can make an x86 cpu but the additional instructions are more likely going to be copyrighted like MMX and SSE. i wish companies just could make there own CPUs so we can finally get away from x86 cpu's and move onto something else cause the time is finally coming where they will finally reach the limits of x86
 

smalltime0

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[citation][nom]pug_s[/nom]Not true. Patents only have a 20 year shelf life. The patent to the 486 processor will expire this year. So Nvidia can develop a processor based on the 486 processor as their own, as long as it doesn't violate any patents from AMD and Intel.[/citation]
AFAIK the patent is for the microcode, not the architecture.

I think they could clean room it, have one team deconstuct the code, make a list of requirements of the code then forward it to a second team who has not seen the code who can make an emulator of sortrs. It would never be as efficient as at x86 instructions as a true x86 design...

And @Valkin, every program in use to date uses the x86 code, and if we all used linux it would still be an issue, as it only runs on x86 compatible hardware.

And its not a case of making a second computer program port for the new hardware, you'd have to start from the base up.
 
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Linux runs fine on platforms other than x86 or x64. For example, there are Linux distros for PowerPC/Cell, Sparc, IA64 and even MIPS IIRC. Because Linux is open-source, if you can find a C compiler you can have Linux on your architecture.
 
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