NVIDIA Interested in the Netbook Market

By Koushik Saha on 4.12.08

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NVIDIA reiterated its interest in the netbook market on Tuesday, yet announced that it still plans to wait around to see how things evolve. However, the company is known to have inked a deal with VIA Technologies to provide chipsets for the Nano processor designed for laptops and mini-laptops, called netbooks by Intel.

As many of you are already aware of, the netbook segment of the market has seen a rapid growth in 2008 and is expected to expand even more in the coming years. “We're not saying we're not interested; it's a matter of how the market will evolve,” said Marv Burkett, the company's chief financial officer. He added that they might burst into product categories such as smartphones and multimedia netbooks that could handle graphics effectively.

Michael Hara, vice president of investor relations at Nvidia, said that most netbooks available today are not able to handle video games or multimedia effectively being powered by Intel's Atom processor. Netbooks can be used for basic programs like Web applications and are able to boost battery life,but that would be about everything they can deliver, Hara stated, adding that these machines might come with integrated graphics in the future so as to be able to handle graphics.

The company plans to watch the market segment a little longer, and its move into the area would consist of providing the netbooks with better graphics integrated into the chipset. The Santa Clara manufacturer already has integrated graphics for notebooks and is also preparing the launch of its Tegra system-on-a-chip for smartphones. The chip includes an ARM processor, a GeForce graphics core and other components.

The company revealed that the focus on the integrated chipsets is only one direction it is taking in its effort to go through the economic turmoil. The graphics maker is also moving into the supercomputing arena with its Tesla platform, which includes graphics processing units (GPUs) with 240 cores as well as the CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) programming architecture, a pack of development tools meant to allow programs to be executed on its graphics processors.

Moreover, the firm is also working on delivering Tesla-based “personal supercomputers” in partnership with PC makers like Dell and Lenovo. Such systems made in collaboration with Penguin Computing and Velocity Micro are already available. According to NVIDIA, the systems are able to process data as much as 250 times faster than standard PCs, as they would feature 960 processing cores in four GPUs.

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