NVIDIA's Bumpy Ride: A Q4 2009 Updateby Anand Lal Shimpi on October 14, 2009 12:00 AM EST
- Posted in
Chipsets: One Day You're In and the Next, You're Out
Presently, NVIDIA’s chipset business is far from dead. They are in nearly every single Apple computer on the market, not to mention countless other OEMs. I’m not sure how much money NVIDIA is making from these chipsets, but they are selling.
NVIDIA won Apple's chipset business, Intel was not happy
Long term I don’t see much of a future for NVIDIA’s chipset business. NVIDIA said that they have no interest in pursuing an LGA-1156 chipset given Intel’s legal threats. Even if NVIDIA had a license to produce DMI chipsets, I’m not sure it makes sense.
NVIDIA's Advantage: A single chip GeForce 9400M instead of a dated Intel solution
Once the ‘dales hit, every single mainstream CPU from Intel is going to come with graphics on-package. Go out one more generation and Sandy Bridge brings the graphics on-die. AMD is doing the same thing starting in 2012.
It’s taken longer than expected, but there’s honestly no need for a third party chipset maker anymore. Most of the performance differentiation in chipsets has been moved onto the CPU die anyway, all that’s left are SATA, USB, and a bunch of validation that no one likes doing. NVIDIA is much better off building a discrete GeForce 9400M GPU at low cost and selling that. There’s much less headache involved with selling discrete GPUs than selling chipsets, plus graphics is NVIDIA’s only value add when it comes to chipsets - everyone knows how to integrate a USB controller by now. I’d say the same about SATA but AMD still has some AHCI silliness that it needs to sort out.
NVIDIA committed to supporting existing products in the channel and continues to poke fun at AMD with lines like this:
“On AMD platforms, we continue to sell a higher quantity of chipsets than AMD itself. MCP61-based platforms continue to be extremely well positioned in the entry CPU segments where AMD CPUs are most competitive vs. Intel”
As successful as NVIDIA’s AMD chipsets are today, AMD is telling us that nearly all OEM designs going forward use AMD chipsets. Again, NVIDIA’s chipset business is quite healthy today, but I don’t see much of a future in it - not that it’s a bad thing.
The only reason NVIDIA’s chipset business has lasted this long is because AMD and Intel couldn’t get their houses in order quickly enough. AMD is finally there and Intel is getting there, although it remains to be seen how well the next-generation of Atom platforms will work in practice.
A pair of Ion motherboards we reviewed
The main reason Ion got traction in the press was because it could play Blu-ray content. If Intel had done the right thing from the start and paired Atom with a decent chipset, NVIDIA would never have had the niche for Ion to fit into.