Industry watcher DigiTimes has said that Nvidia is planning a chipset to combine a GPU and PC southbridge functionality.
Citing sources within motherboard manufacturers, DigiTimes claimed that one function of the mooted chipset would be to reduce PC costs and enable creaton of smaller and lighter PC systems. In PC systems a 'southbridge' chip is one that handles IO such as PCI-E, sound and disk controllers.
The new chip looks likely to be target Intel's new Sandy Bridge architecture expected to arrive early next year. With Intel effectively combining the CPU and and the 'northbridge', the chip which typically interfaces memory with the processor, Nvidia is likely eyeing up a product to mate with Intel's new offering.
The recent settlement between Intel and the FTC competition watchdog contained a binding agreement to make it easier for Nvidia to create products that would interface with Intel products and banned Intel from deliberally reducing performance in such configurations.
The DigiTimes also speculated that the Nvidia chipset would be aimed at $10 to $15 less than Intel's GPU/southbridge part. The graphics specialist also produces a range of GPUs with significantly more performance than even the new GPU in Intel's Sandy Bridge chipset.
AnandTech benchmarks recently showed that Intel's new integrated southbridge/GPU solution threatened to make low-end discreet graphics obsolete. Nvidia's move could be seen as a way of moving the low-end discrete graphics business into such a combined offering in order to compete with Intel.