Announcement places NVIDIA in direct competition with ARM Holdings, Imagination Technologies

Move over Imagination Technologies Group Plc (LON:IMGand ARM Holdings Plc (LON:ARM), there's a new GPU core dealer in town -- NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA).  In a major announcement on Tuesday NVIDIA announced that it would license its GPU technology to rival mobile chipmakers.

The company writes in a blog:

We’ll start by licensing the GPU core based on the NVIDIA Kepler architecture, the world’s most advanced, most efficient GPU. Its DX11, OpenGL 4.3, and GPGPU capabilities, along with vastly superior performance and efficiency, create a new class of licensable GPU cores. Through our efforts designing Tegra into mobile devices, we’ve gained valuable experience designing for the smallest power envelopes.  As a result, Kepler can operate in a half-watt power envelope, making it scalable from smartphones to supercomputers.

As NVIDIA points out, this isn't its first foray into licensing.  The PlayStation 3 from Sony Corp. (TYO:6758used a licensed derivative of NVIDIA's G70 GPU.  And Intel Corp. (INTC) pays $250M USD a year in patent licensing for NVIDIA's visual technology patent portfolio, according to the blog.  NVIDIA holds 5,500 patents on graphics technology, the most in the industry, it claims

NVIDIA is already working to incorporate Kepler into "Logan" (the codename for Tegra 5).  Now its rivals like Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) and MediaTek Inc. (TPE:2454) have the opportunity to integrate Kepler into their system on a chip (SoC) products as well, for a fee.  Even more wild possibilities could even pop up; imagine an Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) ARM processor or an Intel x86 Atom processor with NVIDIA GPU cores.

Kepler may be headed to Tegra's SOC rivals via a licensing bid. [Image Source: NVIDIA]

The company enthuses, "[M]ore devices will have the potential to take advantage of our investments.  That means more of the planet’s users will be able to enjoy our advanced graphics technologies.   And that’s what really gets us excited here at NVIDIA."

Given that NVIDIA licenses ARM's Cortex-Ax CPU core designs for use in Tegra chips, one might think this could create tensions between ARM (who also licenses GPU cores) and NVIDIA.  But that risks remains minimal, given that ARM is in a similar situation with AMD and other CPU IP core licensees.

Source: NVIDIA

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