NVIDIA announced via their blog today that they are preparing to take things in a new direction by licensing their GPU cores and visual computing patent portfolio to other manufacturers. NVIDIA notes that during recent years, as PC sales have been in a decline, sales of other computing devices have been increasing. Going along with this changing landscape, consumers are demanding faster, crisper, high definition displays that produce vivid images no matter what device is currently in use. Driving those displays are the GPUs and NVIDIA is in a good position to capitalize as they have been a long time leader in the GPU market for PCs and more recently, they have been successful in the Android device market with their Tegra line of chips.
As NVIDIA notes though, trying to meet the demands of every part of the expanding market, which will be in the billions of units range for all types of devices, is not practical. They can get their technology into more parts of the market by licensing their intellectual property to other manufacturers and realize financial benefits in the process.
The first step will involve the Android device market, which NVIDIA describes as “an unprecedented opportunity” due to the explosion of Android devices, by licensing their Kepler architecture. Kepler supports DX11, OpenGL 4.3 and GPGPU capabilities using only a half-watt of power to operate. This makes “it scalable from smartphones to supercomputers.” Kepler is already the base architecture for GPUs like the GeForce line, Quadro and Tesla and will be used in the next generation of Tegra chips codenamed Logan. NVIDIA will eventually license rights to their visual computing patent portfolio so others can develop their own GPU devices.