Project Denver: Nvidia Is Finally Making Its Own Processor

Project Denver: Nvidia Is Finally Making Its Own Processor

Slipped in at end of a string of small announcements from the company and its partners – some cool Tegra-powered games, and Skype HD on Android – was a telling glimpse at Nvidia’s future. Yep, they’re making a processor. A weird processor!

There’s no release window and not much technical information right now, but even in broad strokes, Project Denver is different from almost anything else out there.

As you might expect, given Nvidia’s use of ARM processors in their Tegra systems-on-a-chip, Project Denver is based on the processor architecture used almost exclusively in mobile devices. (The iPhone and iPad use ARM-architectures processors, as do virtually all other smartphones.) Nvidia is working directly with the company for Denver.

As you might not expect, this processor isn’t really meant for mobile. Nvidia CEO Jen Hsun-Huang said, with no shortage of bluster, that what makes Denver “revolutionary” is that it’s meant for desktops and laptops, too.

Why does Nvidia thinks it’s a good idea to scale ARM processors up to non-mobile devices? Dunno! I imagine they’re taking a long view. ARM processors are selling like crazy right now, while X86 processors aren’t. (Their fortunes are reflected almost exactly in the sales of smartphones/tablets and PCs, respectively.)

While they’re typically much, much more frugal with power, in the near term ARM-based processors aren’t going to be able to match x86, Intel-style processors in terms of power. But eventually, they might – and when they do, Nvidia hopes to be there to bridge the gap.