Is The Sky Really Falling?

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We take a closer look at the nVidia stories.

The controversy over whether or not nVidia will continue to make motherboard chipsets continues. Unfortunately, at least some of those claiming nVidia chipsets are terminal tend to foam orally while doing so.

Perhaps we can introduce a calmer perspective to the situation:

  • nVidia will issue its latest financial earnings August 12. If chipset sales are withering, we’ll have solid proof of that then. We’ll also likely get more and better information on some other contentious points.
  • Outside of AMD probably becoming more competitive with its chipset offerings, nVidia does not seem to be having any big problems with making and continuing to make AMD-compatible chipsets for at least desktops. (Notebook chipsets may be a different matter.)
  • The situation with Intel-compatible chipsets is less clear. There is, of course, the current notebook mobo situation. nVidia’s future in making Intel-based chipsets is also unclear. The doubt arises over whether or not nVidia did or didn’t get a license from Intel to use QPI (Quick Path Interconnect) technology. While there are reports that they did, this was not officially announced when you might have expected such, and nVidia doesn’t seem to be acting like they did.

    nVidia would need a QPI license to make Bloomfield motherboards. Since Lynnfield and Havendale CPUs do not use QPI, nVidia doesn’t need a QPI license to make mobos for those Nehalems, and that’s apparently all that they’re going to make.

    On the other hand, Intel “got” the ability to use SLI in the form of a nVidia bridge chip. At first glance, this might seem to be a kludgy way for Intel to get SLI technology, but keep in mind that such a kludge might have been the only way Intel could have accommodated SLI given that Bloomfields are supposed to show up in just a few months. The late date may have also precluded nVidia from including QDI in its products.

    It is also unclear why nVidia would allow even the kludge if Intel was flat-out refusing to let nVidia use QDI, ever. One ought to also keep in mind that SLI-enabled Bloomfield motherboards, no matter who makes them, just aren’t going to sell a big percentage of units. Being frozen out of 5% (if even that) of the potential Intel marketplace for the next year hardly means doom for nVidia.

    I suspect what we are seeing is an interim agreement (a truce if you’re a bit more belligerent) between Intel and nVidia while they fight over the details of a final agreement.


    Where Is This Coming From?

    It is sometimes very helpful when you read an article citing unknown sources to consider whom these sources might be. Very often, the tone of the article isn’t so much a reflection of the journalist, but those talking to him/her.

    It’s very hard to imagine these comments coming from the executives of the mobo companies. They just don’t talk like this, at least not to journalists. If they did, they would never have gotten to be executives.

    No, this sounds more like the engineers, and their managers, or maybe the managers’ managers, the people who are in the trenches designing and building the equipment and working/fighting out the nitty-gritty details with their counterparts at companies like nVidia. That’s where you would get this level of whining and moaning and bitching.

    Mind you, there may well be good reason for this whining and moaning, but stressed-out pained people aren’t likely to be the most impartial interpreters of a situation. No, they’re much more likely to be vengeful and inclined to wishful thinking and otherwise kicking the source of pain when it’s down.

    With all this smoke, there’s no doubt some fire. What’s in doubt is the size of the fire, and even more doubt whether the whole forest burned down.

    While I think this explanation is more likely than Armageddon, this whole matter of Intel makes one pause. Just what are they thinking? What if they told the execs, in private “We’re going to freeze nVidia out, piece by piece.” Maybe AMD is mumbling something similiar, again, quietly, privately. Not immediately, but in a couple years, maybe you shouldn’t plan too far ahead when it comes to nVidia. That would be a killer, and there’s no doubt both AMD and Intel would like to do just that.

    The problem is our angst-ridden sources aren’t saying that, and they certainly are in a state of mind to say so if they thought so.

    Maybe that happened. Or maybe that didn’t happen, and the mobo execs are now cool towards nVidia for other reasons, and those stressed-out folks are hearing only what they want to hear.

    I think it’s safe to say that if something dramatic did happen, either the financial numbers or the forecast nVidia provides August 12 will give at least some hint of anything truly dire.

    Unless it does, though, I think these predictions that nVidia is freefalling into hell now (long-term may be quite a different story) is more Chicken Little than anything else.

     

     

    Ed

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