Nvidia: Project Denver is ARMv8-based, is ”going great”

Late yesterday, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang got on the phone to talk to stockholders and journalists about the company’s latest quarterly results. During the Q&A session, Huang revealed that Project Denver, the company’s upcoming desktop processor, will be a custom chip based on the 64-bit ARMv8 architecture—and work on it is "going great." Here’s the transcript, courtesy of Seeking Alpha:

Well, Project Denver is a 64-bit processor. And it’s a full-custom v8 64-bit processor with some exciting secret sauce. And we haven’t revealed much about it. There are no 64 bits processors shipping today, as you know. And v8 was just announced. The next 64-bit was just announced. And so, I guess, the only thing I could tell you is Denver is going great.

ARM announced its own ARMv8-based cores, the Cortex-A50 series, late last month, and it expects the first chips based on them to be out in 2014. Licensees include AMD, which plans to use them for upcoming Opteron server chips, and Samsung, which could very well have ARMv8-based server silicon in the pipeline, too.

We’ve known about Project Denver since Nvidia announced it at CES 2011, but the company has kept surprisingly quiet about it. In an interview with VentureBeat in March 2011, however, Nvidia’s Huang said the chip was about three-and-a-half years through its five-year design cycle. If everything is going according to schedule, then Project Denver might now be complete—and perhaps we could see it released before Cortex-A50-based offerings.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is working with ARM to add support for the ARMv8 architecture to Windows. The existing ARM-compatible version of Windows, Windows RT, supports only current 32-bit ARM processors. There’s no indication of exactly when 64-bit support will be implemented, though. Given Project Denver’s desktop aspirations, Windows support seems like it’s going to be paramount. (Thanks to X-bit labs for the heads up.)

Comments closed
    • ptsant
    • 7 years ago

    Why is everyone so passionate with ARM? What’s the point when x86-64 from Intel will soon be in the same power envelope with vastly superior performance? Intel will crush them (and I say that even as an AMD fan).

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      Charlie, is that you?

      • sschaem
      • 7 years ago

      Aren’t they already in the same power envelope ?

      Intel is not interested in the <.5 watt SoC market, so dont expect much effort there.
      But I expect complete domination in the 1w to 150+ watt market.

      But ARM will continue to thrive, not because its technologically superior,
      but because of prices and locked down platforms.

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang:
    [quote<]There are no 64 bits processors shipping today, as you know[/quote<] I [i<]knew[/i<] those guys at Intel and AMD were lying to us!!

      • adisor19
      • 7 years ago

      He’s referring to ARM 64bit CPUs.

      Adi

        • dpaus
        • 7 years ago

        [MaxwellSmart] I know that! [/MaxwellSmart]

        Max

          • chuckula
          • 7 years ago

          No No No, this is “Denver” not “Maxwell”! That’s a whole other product buzzword!

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        Thanks Einstein, I’m sure dpaus was totally serious and not joking at all.

          • chuckula
          • 7 years ago

          You see.. [b<]Einstein[/b<] is the next part beyond Maxwell! Will the insanity never end??!!?

            • dpaus
            • 7 years ago

            It will when they start work on Jen-Hsun Huang’s next pet project. Right now, their secret lab is hard at work on the ‘Schroedinger’ chip: it’s incredibly, amazingly, infinitely awesome – until you open the box and look at it.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            You got it wrong: Einstein is good – Tesla is insanity

            • Meadows
            • 7 years ago

            I downvoted you because of your constantly repeated Teslalove.

            • dpaus
            • 7 years ago

            It’s not as bad as SSK’s glovelove

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            So, [i<]twice[/i<] is "constantly repeated" now? I admit - the last one was a stronger troll - this was kinda weak. But I'm tired; didn't sleep well last night

            • dpaus
            • 7 years ago

            SSK tossing and turning again?

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            SSK you a-hole! I thought this was gonna be a secret between me, you and your wife. Now my reputation is ruined forever!!

            • dpaus
            • 7 years ago

            Bi-the-bi, I hear that even James Bond is getting all open-minded these days.

            Anyway, I’ve seen SSK’s wife. Your rep be good, bro.

          • ronch
          • 7 years ago

          You forgot to put your username at the end of your post.

          ronch

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        I think he was just joking.

        ronch

    • fredsnotdead
    • 7 years ago

    Has this always been targeted as a desktop processor?

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      yes,

        • dpaus
        • 7 years ago

        Running what OS? WinRT wasn’t even announced privately 4 years ago.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          i’d guess android? i mean since it was announced in 2011 it was a desktop processor. god knows what it started internally as.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        Wait, I thought Denver was originally intended for servers

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      ChromeOS, or any Linux distro tuned for lower-power use would work; Android was a candidate, and hell, iOS was too.

    • jjj
    • 7 years ago

    I am more curious if T4 is 4+1 A15 and, if it is, when we have devices in retail.Ofc the 10 minutes battery life got to suck but still it’s more fun than something years away:p

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    I’ve always wanted to root for the underdog, AMD, but it seems they just couldn’t really outsmart Intel or Nvidia. The battle with Intel in the CPU arena is understandably difficult, and I can give AMD kudos for bringing respectable APUs to market, but the first products came around FIVE YEARS after the ATI acquisition. That’s an eternity in the computer industry for simply putting the CPU and GPU on the same frickin die. And lest we forget they overpaid for the ATI acquisition, whose financial impact still affects the company today, perhaps fatally. The ATI folks must be thinking the main AMD camp is made up of idiots who wouldn’t be around anymore if it weren’t for them.

    And then here we have Nvidia. Nvidia clearly saw the ARM bandwagon coming from a mile away and they had the vision to quickly jump on it. AMD’s board must be wearing blindfolds. Their recent announcement that they’ll be making ARM-based designs is obviously a late and frantic rush to jump on the ARMs race, with no choice but to simply license the Cortex A50 design.

    I hate to admit it, but AMD really has made one bad choice after another too many times. You can only shoot yourself in the foot so many times, you can only miss so many buses, and you can only have so many fanbois to count on.. soon you’ll realize you’ve made it to the bottom and you’re almost done for.

    Amidst all the bad news spewing out of AMD lately, it’s good to see the other two big guys execute well. Jensen really should have been AMD’s CEO but I guess AMD’s management’s arrogance is costing them dearly today.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      One key difference is that NVidia didn’t have a choice but to look at ARM (or some other instruction set like maybe MIPS) if they wanted to make an all-in-one SoC.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        In a sense, yes, not having an x86 license forced them to think hard, something of a scarcity at AMD for the past few years, it seems.

      • dpaus
      • 7 years ago

      Another key difference is that AMD’s chips are targeted at the server market, where there is a well-established OS and they have well-established distribution partners. Nvidia is targeting desktops, where both potential OSes (WinRT and Linux) have a significant dearth of market share and applications, and Nvidia does not have any distribution partners.

      AMD will be selling ARM-based server chips in high volume on Day 1. Nvidia will require a lot of time and effort to reach volume sales.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        And another difference is that AMD has far less money and far more debt to pull off a hat trick. Nvidia on the other hand, must be swimming in money.

        • Narishma
        • 7 years ago

        From what I understand, Project Denver is targeting both the desktop and server markets.

          • dpaus
          • 7 years ago

          It certainly could, but Nvidia doesn’t have the long-term [i<]system[/i<] supply relationships with vendors that AMD has.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            No? Don’t you think they’ve developed some relationships because of Quadro and Tesla cards?

            • ronch
            • 7 years ago

            Nvidia has a reputation for solid engineering, I don’t think they’ll have a hard time attracting customers.

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    In an Apple-Intel article comments section on EETimes I found this:

    [quote<]"I know Nvidia is continuing work on Project Denver as an R&D effort but many of the key technical folks jumped ship for Intel, Apple and Google over a year ago."[/quote<] [quote<]"In no particular order: Thomas Kistler Alexander Klaiber Rupert Brauch Tim Kong Chris Leary A quick search on LinkedIn for "Binary Translation" (BT) shows something of a mass exodus of such specialists from Nvidia within the last two years. BT was (is?) the essential enabler for "Project Denver""[/quote<] [url<]http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-blogs/semi-conscious/4400634/Apple-mulls-switch-away-from-Intel-chips[/url<]

      • dpaus
      • 7 years ago

      Good detective work there!

      • bjm
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]A quick search on LinkedIn for "Binary Translation" (BT) shows something of a mass exodus of such specialists from Nvidia within the last two years. BT was (is?) the essential enabler for "Project Denver""[/quote<] Binary translation was only essential to Project Denver for as long as Windows was a x86 only. Since two years ago, this has changed. So, the need for any binary translation has been dramatically reduced. In addition, Android has dramatically increased it's market share and the desktop arena where Windows is dominant is not as appealing as it once was. If nVidia is letting those specialists go, I would say it's more confirmation that they are adjusting to the current climate and actively pursuing it, than anything else. Plus, with Transmeta's binary translation patents sitting with Intel, it was a landmine to begin with.

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        Interesting – thanks for the info

      • Game_boy
      • 7 years ago

      The Charlie version of the story is that Nvidia planned to get an x86 license as part of the recent settlement with Intel, and that fell through because Nvidia didn’t have a great bargaining position so they were forced to abandon the x86 compatibility part of Denver.

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        Any time one of Charlie’s fabricated stories fail to occur he says “it was going to happen but the plan fell through”.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Sure it’s going great.. Denver is in [b<]Colorado[/b<] after all! After the announcement Jen-Hsun took everyone out for White Castle.

      • alloyD
      • 7 years ago

      And marajuana

      edit: oh.

        • vaultboy101
        • 7 years ago

        No chance that AG Holder and the Federal Govt will allow Colorado’s pot experiment. Sorry guys…

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      No wonder NVDA has gone higher today.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      We don’t have White Castle. In fact, [url=http://www.whitecastle.com/locations/all<]the entire western United States[/url<] doesn't have White Castle. We do, however, have [url=http://smashburger.com/locations/<]Smashburger[/url<].

        • chuckula
        • 7 years ago

        No White Castle? How you say in your country: FRANCHISING OPPORTUNITY!

          • ludi
          • 7 years ago

          I’d rather have In-N-Out Burger show up here…

            • chuckula
            • 7 years ago

            True dat. I’m farther east so we are covered by 5 Guys, but In-N-Out is great too.

            • CuttinHobo
            • 7 years ago

            5 Guys… In-N-Out… The crude replies almost write themselves!

        • bthylafh
        • 7 years ago

        You aren’t missing anything.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          Except for an extended period of time spent in the bathroom.

        • heinsj24
        • 7 years ago

        Smashburger has a poor money to munchy ratio…

        nearest White Castle is in MO it’s only <—————————————————————–> this far away on Google maps. That’s what… an hour…

          • Meadows
          • 7 years ago

          Depends on your zoom level.

      • anotherengineer
      • 7 years ago

      I think it’s named after John Denver, the folk signer. 😉

        • dpaus
        • 7 years ago

        He was well into pot too.

          • CuttinHobo
          • 7 years ago

          Musicians using illegal substances? I highly doubt that ever happens!

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