Nvidia may be moving into X86 market

It is starting to look like graphics chip maker Nvidia is building its own x86 development program using staff from Transmeta.

AmTech analyst Doug Freedman said the only explanation for its vigorous headhunting is that it is considering a move into the x86 CPU market. Freedman thinks that the outfit needs to preserve both GPU and chipset revenue and pushing into the x86 market is the best way forward.

Nvidia is involved in a spat with Intel over rights to develop chipsets for future Intel processors. In the long term it will be hard for Nvidia to sell chipsets and it can’t turn to AMD because that owns ATI.

Freedman reasons that if Nvidia can’t sell parts to go with Intel or AMD processors it will have to sell its own chips.

More than 30 per cent of Nvidia’s revenue comes from chipsets, so getting out of the chipset business would simply put too much pressure on Nvidia’s other products. Freeman is going against others forecasts that Nvidia will quit the chipset business, but the recruitment drive seems to back up his idea.

He said that Nvidia could soon enter the x86 CPU business targeting mainstream and low performance areas rather than the Core i7 end of the market.