Rumours have circulated for ages that Nvidia might make an x86 CPU to compete with offerings from the likes of AMD and Intel and it looks like they might prove true. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference, Nvidia's senior vice president of investor relations and communications, Michael Hara, divulged that the company will likely look to enter the x86 CPU business in the next couple of years.
Asked whether Nvidia would look to compete in the general microprocessor market, Hara replied: "the question is not so much, I think, if; I think the question is when." Hara clarified that Nvidia would be unlikely to take on ts rivals' mainstream products, commenting: "If you look at the high-end of the PC market I think it's going to stay fairly discrete, because that seems to be the best of all worlds." Instead, Nvidia would focus on system-on-chip (SoC) solutions as "a highly integrated system-on-chip is going to make sense."
There isn't a firm timescale on such a development, though Hara suggested that "two or three years down the road I think it's going to make sense" but adding: "we won't talk much more about what we think about that timeframe, but there's no question it's on our minds."
Such speculation is all well and good; Nvidia already has SoC solutions using ARM CPUs, and it seems likely that tweaking those designs to accommodate an x86 processor wouldn't be particularly complicated. However it does gloss over the slight issue that Nvidia doesn't own an x86 license, which it needs if it wants to sell a CPU.
Whether Intel would let Nvidia built an x86 processor or not remains to be seen. Still, it's an interesting proposal, if nothing else.