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Nvidia plans to licence graphics technology

Posted: 20 Jun 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Nvidia  license  GPU  Android 

Aiming to make the most of the booming smartphone and tablet markets, Nvidia Corp. has outlined a new business strategy and plans to licence its graphics processing unit (GPU) platform to other silicon vendors. Earlier, the company used to just make and sell GPU chips.

“PC sales are declining with the rise of smartphones and tablets. High-definition screens are proliferating, showing up on most every machine. Android is increasingly pervasive. Yesterday’s PC industry, which produced several hundred million units a year, will soon become a computing-devices industry that produces many billions of units a year. And visual computing is at the epicentre of it all,” Nvidia said. “For us, this disruption provides an opening to expand our business model.”

The company already licenses its graphics technology to gaming console maker Sony, but now plans to expand that business to smartphones and tablets.

“It’s not practical to build silicon or systems to address every part of the expanding market. Adopting a new business approach will allow us to address the universe of devices. So, our next step is to license our GPU cores and visual computing patent portfolio to device manufacturers to serve the needs of a large piece of the market.”

Nvidia said it will license its Kepler GPU product family, as well as the modem technology acquired from Icera. Kepler is the basis for currently shipping GeForce, Quadro and Tesla GPUs, as well as the company’s next-generation Tegra mobile processor, codenamed Logan.

With the addition of Nvidia licensing GPU technology there are now five major GPU IP licensors, including ARM, DMP, Imagination, and Vivante. However, two of those companies also offer CPU cores -- ARM and Imagination with the recent acquisition of MIPS. Theoretically, developing both the CPU and GPU technology should provide and edge for ARM and MIPS, but in the case of GPUs, Nvidia has the advantage of developing some of the most advanced graphics technology that power high performance PCs and workstations. It would stand to reason that AMD, the other major PC and workstation GPU vendor, might also benefit from a similar IP licensing model, which it once did before selling the GPU IP group to Qualcomm, which now refers to the product family as Adreno, said Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst, Tirias Research.

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