Nvidia to develop 'Denver' desktop CPU

CES 2011: ARM-based chip destined for PCs and servers
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Graphics specialist Nvidia announced that it is developing a new ARM-based CPU core for desktops and servers code-named ‘Denver’.

Following the Microsoft announcement that Windows 8 would be available for the ARM architecture, Nvidia followed up with an announcement that the firm intends to develop a desktop processor which would be capable of running the next-generation version of Windows.

The move raises the possibility of the traditional Windows mainstream desktop market gaining another major variation of processor architecture aside from Intel’s x86, something which has not existed since the demise of the PowerPC architecture in Apple desktops.

Nvidia will also be targeting the high density server market, an area already looking to ARM since the low-power mobile architecture lends itself well to packing in multiple processors in a tight space and since the ARM architecture can already run Linux-based operating systems popular in server environments.

“Denver frees PCs, workstations and servers from the hegemony and inefficiency of the x86 architecture,” wrote Nvidia spokesman Bill Dally on the Nvidia Blog.

“For several years, makers of high-end computing platforms have had no choice about instruction-set architecture. The only option was the x86 instruction set with variable-length instructions, a small register set, and other features that interfered with modern compiler optimizations, required a larger area for instruction decoding, and substantially reduced energy efficiency.”

Dally said that the Denver coupled with Nvidia GPU hardware “represents the computing platform of the future” and that the result would be an “outstanding combination of performance and power efficiency” in devices “from the thinnest laptops to the biggest data centers.”

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