Broadpoint AmTech analyst Doug Freedman today revived talk of NVIDIA making its own x86 processors in a new research note. He claims that the graphics company has been recruiting "extensively" from employees of the one-time chip designer Transmeta and is using these to speed along one or more unknown designs. It may also not need to use Transmeta-like code translation as many of the original x86 architecture patents lose their effectiveness.
NVIDIA has hinted it would like to use x86 for future system-on-a-chip processors but hasn't set out any definitive schedules or product plans. Its Tegra chip used in the Zune HD is based on ARM and runs quickly but is incompatible with most variants of Linux and Windows.
An in-house x86 design may also be necessary for NVIDIA in the future if it hopes to continue developing and promoting integrated graphics. The company is embroiled in countering lawsuits as part of a dispute over NVIDIA's license to make chipsets for Intel processors and, without a settlement, can't make such hardware for Core i5, Core i7 and most other Intel processors with integrated memory controllers.