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CES: Nvidia, ARM partner on company's first high-performance CPU

At CES 2011, Nvidia announced that it plans to build high-performance ARM-based CPU cores, designed to support products as diverse as computers, servers, workstations and supercomputers.
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Written by Andrew Nusca, Former editor on

LAS VEGAS -- Nvidia announced on Wednesday that it plans to build high-performance ARM-based CPU cores, designed to support products as diverse as computers, servers, workstations and supercomputers.

The project -- until now called "Project Denver" -- is the company's first foray into CPUs.

[CES photo gallery: Nvidia debuts super phone, ARM partnership]

"ARM is the fastest-growing CPU architecture in history," Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said. "This marks the beginning of the Internet Everywhere era, where every device provides instant access to the Internet, using advanced CPU cores and rich operating systems.

Specifically, the project will materialize as an Nvidia CPU running the ARM instruction set, which will be fully integrated on the same chip as an Nvidia GPU.

Nvidia says it obtained rights to develop its own high performance CPU cores based on ARM's future processor architecture; in the meantime, the company has licensed ARM's existing Cortex-A15 processor for its Tegra mobile processors.

At the press conference at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, Huang made several key points about his company's big bet on ARM:

  • "I think we all believe we're going to have more than one of these mobile computing devices in our lives, and the number of these devices will expand into well over the tens of billions, into what people call the 'Internet of things.'"
  • "These things will be everywhere, from kiosks to cars to phones to tablets."
  • "The reason why Tegra 2 is going to be so important for cars is because energy efficient directly relates to weight directly relates to fuel efficiency. There are so many processors in cars now....you'd better be miserly about the energy efficiency of your instrumentation panel."

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