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Nvidia chipsets are history

Whithersoever the axe doth fall
Sun Aug 03 2008, 22:30

THERE ARE A ton of 'rumors' floating around about Nvidia giving up the ghost on its ailing chipset division. Nvidia is desperately trying to deny it, but don't believe the spin, the division is deader than an Nvidia mobile GPU.

Just over a week ago, Nvidia's maximum leader, Jen-Hsun Huang, held a meeting with Taiwanese mobo partners. He directly asked them if there was a reason why Nvidia should stay in the chipset business. You could hear the crickets chirp.

In mainland China. No one came up with a reason, so the division was officially killed, and the teams will be rolled into GPU projects.

Nvidia PR is having the proverbial hissy-fit, but ignore it, they do that a lot. The INQUIRER has talked to people who were at the meeting, and they confirmed the reports, and are dead convnced that Nvidia chipsets are a thing of the past.

This is not to say that there will be no new chipsets from today. Things currently done or almost done will be out, but new designs won't be started, and early-stage projects are not likely to continue. Deep breaths people, projects on the near term horizon are safe, or at least safe from that paticular axe.

This mercy killing was strongly hinted at during Cebit in March, and was likely a done deal back then. If you look at the abysmal performance of the group, from the laughable 780i and the highly dropped 790i to being six months late to PCIe2, you understand why things are going away. The division basically couldn't engineer their way out of a paper bag, and have had their sales figures covered by the GPU side.

The problem with axing the chipset division is that it also axes their SLI lock-in lever. Nvidia has long used SLI to squeeze partners for cash, and the partners are not particularly happy about this. Now that Nvidia chipsets are going away and the GPU lead is lost, partners are about to put the boot in.

Nvidia's current plan is to put the singularly awful NV200 PCIe decelerator and latency multiplier on Intel x58 motherboards in order to pretend that there is a reason other than sabotaged drivers for SLI to work.

Polling OEMs, this is not going to get any traction, a view backed up by Nova's polling the other day. Having to beg when your twisting brings smiles to your partner's faces is not where Nvidia wants to be. What comes around....... If you want to know how desperate they are to try this, notice they did not co-announce that little deal with Intel.

Nvidia AR/IR is more than happy to say that they won't bother with a CSI chipset for financial reasons, but will do an MSI chipset later on. Putting aside the blatant NDA violations they get for publicly giving Intel's long term roadmaps to anyone who will listen, engineers tell us that Nvidia does not have the process technology and engineering prowess to compete at that level. This is backed up by how increasingly late Nvidia is with each new technology, and all the chipset slips of late.

The next master plan is to try and artificially make up a 'reason' to lock out those who don't tithe from SLI 'technology'. Large mobo makers openly laughed at this plan when asked by The INQUIRER about the possibility of paying. The memory of how Nvidia is currently screwing Intel over SLI on Skulltrail, with the same NV200 chips is still fresh in OEMs minds. Without a lock and a halo card, things could be very bad for for Nvidia marketshare.

So in the end, Nvidia chipsets are history. You will see a few more trickle out mainly because they are already done and dusted. Mobo makers are taking the attitude of "don't let the door hit your ass on the way out", while laughing of f future marketing initiatives. Game over. µ

 

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