Exclusive: Nvidia Builds Arm-Based PC Chips in Intel’s New Grand Challenge

Oct 23 (Reuters) – Nvidia ( NVDA.O ) dominates the market for artificial intelligence computing chips. Now it has come after Intel’s long-standing stronghold of personal computers.

Nvidia has quietly begun designing central processing units (CPUs) that run Microsoft’s ( MSFT.O ) Windows operating system and use Arm Holdings’ ( O9Ty.F ) technology, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. .

The AI ​​chip giant’s new pursuit is part of Microsoft’s effort to help chipmakers build Arm-based processors for Windows PCs. Microsoft’s plans are aimed at Apple, which nearly doubled its market share in the three years after it introduced its own Arm-based chips for its Mac computers, according to preliminary third-quarter data from research firm IDC.

Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD.O ) also plans to make chips for PCs with Arm technology, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Nvidia and AMD could sell PC chips in 2025, said one person familiar with the matter. Nvidia and AMD join Qualcomm ( QCOM.O ), which has been making Arm-based chips for laptops since 2016. At an event on Tuesday attended by Microsoft executives, including vice president of Windows and devices Pavan Davoluri, Qualcomm is considering. to reveal more details about a flagship chip designed by a team of ex-Apple engineers, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Shares of Nvidia rose 3.84 percent and Intel fell 3.06 percent after Reuters reported on Nvidia’s plans. Arm shares were up 4.89 percent at the close.

Nvidia spokesman Ken Brown, AMD spokesman Brandi Marina, Arm spokesman Kristen Ray and Microsoft spokesman Pete Wooten all declined to comment.

Efforts by Nvidia, AMD and Qualcomm could shake up the PC industry, long dominated by Intel but under increasing pressure from Apple ( AAPL.O ). Apple’s custom chips have given Mac computers better battery life and faster performance that rivals more power-hungry chips. Microsoft executives have seen how efficient Apple’s Arm-based chips are, including with artificial intelligence processing, and want to achieve similar performance, one of the sources said.

In 2016, Microsoft tapped Qualcomm to lead the effort to port the Windows operating system to the Arms mainstream processor architecture, which has long powered smartphones and their tiny batteries. Microsoft has given Qualcomm an exclusive contract to develop Windows-compatible chips through 2024, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The two sources told Reuters that Microsoft had encouraged others to enter the market after the exclusivity agreement ended.

“Microsoft learned from the ’90s that they don’t want to be tied to Intel again, they don’t want to be tied to one vendor,” said Jay Goldberg, chief executive of D2D Advisory, a financial and strategy consulting firm. If Arm really got into PC (chips) they would never have allowed Qualcomm to be the sole supplier.

Microsoft encourages participating chipmakers to build advanced AI features into the processors they design. The company predicts that AI-enhanced software like its Copilot will become an important part of using Windows. To make this happen, future chips from Nvidia, AMD and others will need to dedicate on-chip resources to this task.

If Microsoft and the chip companies continue with the plans, there is no guarantee of success. Software developers have spent decades and billions of dollars to write code for Windows that runs on the x86 computing architecture used by Intel and AMD. Computer code built for x86 chips does not automatically run on Arm-based designs, and this transition can present challenges.

Intel has also built AI features into its chips, and recently showed off a laptop that runs similar features to ChatGPT directly on the device.

Intel spokesman Will Moss did not immediately respond to a request for comment. AMD’s entry into the Arm-based PC market was previously reported by chip-focused publication SemiAccurate.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Max A. Cherney in San Francisco. Edited by Kenneth Lee and Josie Kao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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