Rumor has NVIDIA' flagship DX11 part delayed until March

NVIDIA logoNVIDIA's next-generation, supercomputer-oriented "Fermi" GPU may be delayed until March.

When NVIDIA unveiled its next-generation, DX11 GPU this past October, it was clear that part, codenamed Fermi, was headed in the same direction as Intel's "Larrabee"—i.e., a fully programable, many-core, through-put oriented processor with some graphics-specific hardware tacked on. If the latest rumor out of Taiwan is to be believed (in this case, it probably is) the similarities with the oft-delayed, effectively cancelled Larrabee product don't end at "many-core and programmable"—Fermi is being pushed back another whole quarter.

Originally slated to launch this past November, then delayed until CES, Fermi is already late. But if NVIDIA really is pushing back the Fermi launch until March 2010 (the company hasn't responded yet to our inquiries), that will give AMD/ATI's "Evergreen" GPU family some three quarters of uncontested DX11 leadership.

A multi-quarter delay in the launch of a flagship product is always bad news under any circumstances, but this development strikes NVIDIA at a particularly awkward time. Earlier this year, the company bowed to the inevitable and halted development of its chipsets for non-Atom x86 platforms. This move was due in part to lack of a DMI bus license, and in part to the fact that the GPU's impending move onto the CPU die means that integrated graphics processors are a losing battle in the long-term if you aren't also in the x86 CPU business.

The massive contraction of the company's IGP prospects left NVIDIA with discrete GPUs and high-performance computing as the two pillars on which much of the company's business case rests. The former category will provide a volume market and revenue base that can fund development and bring down costs sufficiently to make the latter category a lucrative growth market. But, of course, if you can't ship the products that you have to ship to make the whole thing work, then the wheels kinda fall off the cart.

With Fermi faltering, that leaves Tegra, NVIDIA's ARM-based embedded/mobile processor, to build buzz and drive the company's growth story. Luckily for NVIDIA, there's plenty of excitement around Tegra, with some rumors even suggesting it will serve as the brains of Apple's upcoming tablet. For NVIDIA's sake, let's hope that the Tegra train picks up even more steam this quarter; another string of design wins would help greatly in keeping the focus off its discrete GPU troubles.

Source: ars technica


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