Nvidia to license Kepler GPU core to Android device makers


— 4:48 PM on June 18, 2013

Nvidia lost the battle for next-gen consoles to AMD, but the war for dominance of the non-PC space is far from over. In its latest offensive, Nvidia has announced that it will license its Kepler GPU core and "visual computing patent portfolio" to third-party device makers. Here's the meat of the announcement, straight from the horse's mouth:

We'll start by licensing the GPU core based on the NVIDIA Kepler architecture, the world's most advanced, most efficient GPU. Its DX11, OpenGL 4.3, and GPGPU capabilities, along with vastly superior performance and efficiency, create a new class of licensable GPU cores. Through our efforts designing Tegra into mobile devices, we've gained valuable experience designing for the smallest power envelopes. As a result, Kepler can operate in a half-watt power envelope, making it scalable from smartphones to supercomputers.

Kepler is the basis for currently shipping GeForce, Quadro and Tesla GPUs, as well as our next-generation Tegra mobile processor codenamed Logan. Licensees will receive all necessary designs, collateral and support to integrate NVIDIA's powerful graphics cores into their devices.

We'll also offer licensing rights to our visual computing portfolio. This will enable licensees to develop their own GPU functionality while enjoying design freedom under the best visual computing patent portfolio in the world.

This isn't Nvidia's first brush with licensing. The company also licensed the GPU core for Sony's PlayStation 3 console, and it claims to rake in "more than $250 million a year" from a patent licensing agreement with Intel. Now, though, Nvidia says the "explosion of Android devices presents an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate this effort."

In other words, the next time you see a GeForce-powered smartphone or tablet, the silicon inside could be made by one of Nvidia's current competitors—say, Samsung.

Of course, Nvidia isn't giving up on its own line of mobile chips. The firm has more Tegra SoCs in the pipeline, starting with Logan, which will couple Kepler graphics with 32-bit ARM cores, and then Parker, which will debut in 2015 with 64-bit ARMv8 cores and graphics based on Nvidia's next-gen Maxwell GPU architecture.

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