While NVIDIA’s core businesses and gaming have been inseparable since the start, it’s only relatively recently that NVIDIA has become heavily involved in game creation itself, and not just supplying the hardware that games are played on. The launch of the company’s Tegra ARM SoCs, their SHIELD product lineup, and the overall poor state of the Android gaming market has led to the company investing rather significantly in bringing higher quality games over to SHIELD and Android devices. This has culminated in NVIDIA paying for the Android ports for a number of games, some of the most famous including the Android ports of Valve’s Half-Life 2 and Portal.

Meanwhile with the launch of the SHIELD Android TV, NVIDIA is essentially doubling-down on Android gaming as part of their efforts to become the premiere Android TV set top box. And now as part of those efforts, the company has announced that they are acquiring the Graphics & Portability Group (GPG) from game tool developer Transgaming.

Transgaming is best known for their work developing Cider, a WINE-derived Windows compatibility layer used to quickly port Windows games over to OS X. With the rise of Apple’s fortunes and the move to x86, Transgaming has been responsible for either directly porting or supplying Cider to developers to bring a number of Windows games over to OS X. However in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, back in March of this year the company announced that they were also going to get in to using their technology and expertise to port games over to architectures, partnering with NVIDIA to bring Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance to SHIELD Android TV.


NVIDIA's SHIELD Console: The Reason For The Acquisition

Now just 3 months later NVIDIA is acquiring the GPG outright from Transgaming. This acquisition will see the group open a new office in Toronto, while structurally they are folded into the NVIDIA GameWorks division. And although NVIDIA doesn't state what precisely they intend to do with the group and its technology beyond the fact that the “acquisition will enrich our GameWorks effort,” it’s a safe bet that NVIDIA intends to do more game ports for their SHIELD devices. Given their existing (if short) relationship, the acquisition is not too surprising, however it is a bit interesting since the bulk of the group’s experience is with porting games among different x86 OSes, not porting games to new architectures entirely.

As for Transgaming, having sold the GPG to NVIDIA, the company has retained their SwiftShader (software 3D rendering) technology and their GameTree TV business. Transgaming has indicated that they are going to focus on providing apps for the Smart TV market, which they see as a greater growth opportunity than porting games.


Games Published By Transgaming GPG On the Mac App Store

Finally, while this acquisition will undoubtedly be a big deal for NVIDIA’s efforts to bring more major games to SHIELD, perhaps the more profound ramifications of this deal will be what it means for Mac gaming. Though NVIDIA doesn’t definitively state what they will be doing with Cider, the fact that they have their own platform to worry about certainly gives pause for thought. There are a large number of games that have received native Mac ports over the years, but Cider has still been used in everything from Metal Gear Solid to EVE Online. If Cider becomes unavailable to developers, then this may cut down on the number of Windows games that get ported to OS X, especially those games where marginal sales may make a native port impractical. In either case with this acquisition NVIDIA seems to have co-opted a lot of the technology and relationships behind Mac game porting, which should be a boon for their SHIELD platform.

Source: Transgaming (via Beyond3D)

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  • Senti - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    He meant "KIll CUDA in their walled garden" and they have full power to do so. Reply
  • jwcalla - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    People who depend on CUDA applications will just go to a different platform. Most of these people are professionals who need to get work down and would have no problem dumping Apple for Windows or Linux workstations. Reply
  • Yojimbo - Sunday, June 14, 2015 - link

    Did he mean that? Even if so, why would they want to? In order to kill CUDA in their walled garden they need to restrict their users' continuous access to NVIDIA GPUs. That seems to mean going long stretches of time without offering NVIDIA GPUs, which in turn seems like mostly choosing AMD over NVIDIA. So in order to avoid becoming tied to NVIDIA by their users' wishes, they end up becoming a bit tied to AMD instead, in opposition to some of their users' wishes. Not sure it is a great strategy. I think more likely, they don't care about compute very much at all in their walled garden. They like to make purchases in bulk and play suppliers against each other. They chose AMD this round because AMD offered them a better deal. Much like the console supply competition, AMD was willing to sell their chips for less than NVIDIA was. Reply
  • id4andrei - Monday, June 15, 2015 - link

    No, no and no. The biggest reason for the AMD choice was OpenCL performance. AMD has supported OpenCL from the start - it's not like they had any choice seeing nvidia started their own thing with CUDA. Apple made OpenCL the center of their compute efforts. nvidia's OpenCL support is crap compared to AMD. The macpro trashcan has great OpenCL performance in OpenCL optimized programs(like Apple's Final Cut), but with AMD cards. Nvidia is bullish about CUDA, their cards are literally designed around CUDA cores.

    The low price is an afterthought. Anyway, Apple made a major compromise putting a 3yr old GPU in the 15" MBP and asking 2500$ for it.
    Reply
  • zepi - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    If Apple really cared they could just buy Nvidia. Reply
  • Senti - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    It makes no sense to buy NV. If Apple wanted to buy something AMD would by much better deal. Reply
  • kron123456789 - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    Apple can buy Nvidia and AMD. And even Intel. But they won't. Reply
  • Morawka - Sunday, June 14, 2015 - link

    they could but that doesn't necessarily mean the companies would be willing to be sold. Intel would never sell. They are a money printing machine.

    Nvidia,, maybe, but i doubt it.
    Reply
  • zepi - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    What possible value could AMD give to Apple? Just inferior / equal technology that they already have full access to. I see zero benefit from buying AMD, since they couldn't use their CPU's anyway without big performance regression compared to current Intels (except maybe in mac mini).

    Nvidia on the other hand has arguably way better GPU-technology that would be much more suitable to Apple's computers than the chips that Apple currently buys from AMD.

    Nvidia might even have some valuable GPU tech for the mobile, since newest Nvidia SOC seem to have competitive GPU parts compared to the PVR-tech Apple licenses at the moment. Afaik AMD has nothing worth noting for mobile.

    Maxwell in Mac's would arguably be much better than what AMD to offer (better perf/w and Apple is perf/w limited in all of their HW designs).

    I don't see Apple buying Nvidia, but I think that they at least would benefit from it. I don't see any benefit from buying AMD what so ever. Not that AMD would costs anything for them since AMD market cap is just few weeks worth of profits for Apple. Nvidia market cap is at least a bit over quarter's worth of profits.
    Reply
  • Senti - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    No one makes investments such as buying other big company based on products today. For future AMD works on HSA alone looks to me more interesting than anything NV can offer.

    You don't buy other company to slap their piece in your system – it's all about tight integration of technologies. And it looks like no one wants to integrate NV tech but OpenPOWER foundation. Remember when NV announced that their "superior" Maxwell technology is available for licensing for mobile? Who went with them? No one.
    Reply

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