Report: GPU-Integrated Chips To Win PC Market, Good News For Nvidia

According to the forecast, the percentage of microprocessors with integrated graphics will rise from 39 percent in 2010 to 50 percent in 2011, and 82.9 percent in 2014. The integrated CPU-GPU space is expected to expand significantly in 2011 with last month's introduction of Intel's Sandy Bridge processor platform and AMD's Fusion APU platform, as well as the upcoming launch of Project Denver. However, based on iSuppil's figures, significantly more notebook PC makers will adopt chips with integrated GPUs in 2012 than will this year.

According to the report, this bodes well for Nvidia. Compared to Fusion or Sandy Bridge, both of which run on the x86 architecture that powers most traditional PCs, Nvidia's entry into the market is uniquely significant given its adoption of ARM's core architecture.

“Nvidia’s entry into the microprocessor segment makes sense, despite the current market dominance of Intel and AMD,” said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS, in a statement.

In addition, Nvidia's revelation at CES 2011 that it is developing high-performance Project Denver chips that combine ARM's CPU architecture with Nvidia's Maxwell GPUtechnology represents a shift in Nvidia's strategy toward manufacturing in addition to licensing GPU designs to other manufacturers.

Sponsored post

Nevertheless, iSuppli anticipates one significant challenge for Nvidia as it seeks a new direction.

"The PC market is dominated by the x86 microprocessor architecture, and software used on these computers is written for x86 hardware," the report says. "Nvidia’s challenge is to create products that interest independent software vendors (ISVs) to the extent that they port their existing PC applications or write new programs for ARM-based microprocessors."

However, a blog post from Nvidia that appeared on the week of CES says ARM's technology and open business model have made ARM the standard architecture for mobile PCs and other embedded devices. Nvidia at CES said it is developing the Project Denver processors for a number of form factors and verticals including servers, desktops, and even supercomputers.

At CES, Microsoft said it will support ARM processors on the next version of its Windows OS, giving ARM new access to the traditional PC processor market just as Intel said it will support the Android 3.0 platform with its upcoming tablet-optimized Oak Trail chips.

If Suppli's estimate turns out to be accurate, traditional mobile PCs still provide a great deal of opportunity for integrated CPU-GPU platforms, as Intel branches out from the desktop and workstation segments that ARM is seeking to enter.