NVIDIA has come out and admitted that for the foreseeable future
they will not be making high-end chipsets for Intel. They cite legal issues with Intel and their new DMI interface as the reasons. I have to wonder if this is really true.
While it is true that NVIDIA, up until recently, had a majority of the market share for AMD CPUs. This has been steadily declining as AMD gets their Crossfire performance together and we Crossfire scaling at least as well as SLI. Granted this did not start coming into play until the late stages of the 38xx series GPUs but has increasingly been apparent in each successive generation. There were other issues though.
Pretty much everything after the nForce 4 has been problematic. I can remember the horror of the NAM [NVIDIA Access Manager] software. This software that was supposed to protect your system on a network often just prevented it from communicating at all. This was tied in with poorly performing LAN parts as well. Next up was a very flaky memory controller on the 680i, this wonderful item liked to eat high-performance RAM. I personally went through several versions of the EVGA 680i. The 7xx series was not much better, they improved the memory controller so that it would stop eating memory but the RAID controller was terrible and had issue that in some cases probably knocked more than a few years off of the owner’s life.
This was a problem across the board from information that I received from my OEM contacts at the time. In fact most had made comments that the RMA rate on NV 6xx and 7xx boards was so high they were not worth the cost of buying them. Next we have to point out that NVIDIA getting out of the chipset business was talked about last year. In the second half of last year there was [according to the story] a conference of OEMs and NVIDIA. At this time NVIDIA supposedly asked if there was any reason for them to continue making new chipsets. The story follows saying there was a silence in the room and the rest is history.
So is the news that they are stopping production for now due to legal issues with Intel might not be the whole story. We know that NVIDIA is moving its focus to SoC [System on Chip
] and GPGPU
. For this they need money. They could either spend money they do not have to fund this, or drop a failing part of the company, claim it is all Intel's fault to save face and preserve ego, and pull resources from there to add it to their talent pool in the other parts of the company that are actually going somewhere.
This makes even more sense when you think about Jen-Hsung Haung’s recent comment that he wants Tegra to be 50% of the company’s revenue. Either he subtly acknowledged that their chipsets were going away or he was saying they were going to be scaling back their GPU division. I doubt it was the second. Instead I think the writing has been on the wall that this was going to happen at some time or another. Intel's refusal to grant NVIDIA license is as good excuse as any. Bottom line is that nVidia is playing the legal round this time around, since if the judge sides with NVIDIA in the whole cross-license theme, products such as each and every Intel core logic with integrated graphics or the upcoming Larrabee could be barred from selling. Needless to say who would profit in that case.
In the end losing NVIDIA chipsets for Intel CPUs [Even if the ones for AMD went away too] is not a major loss as they were not any good to begin with. NVIDIA does go on to say they will continue to make Chipsets for Intel FSB based CPUs [Socket 755, Atom etc.] I imagine that these too may go away in the near future as stocks of them dwindle. Next we might see NVIDIA chipsets for AMD CPUs go away and NVIDIA quietly roll this loss leader into the SoC and cGPU divisions. Of course there is always the chance that they will sell some of it off to Apple
, just to get the cash. Then again, NVIDIA just might have something special up their sleeves - watch this space around October 20th...
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