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Nvidia to License IP

Nvidia isn’t a complete stranger to licensing. It licensed an earlier GPU core to Sony for the PlayStation 3

With PCs in the doldrums and high-definition screens becoming virtually universal Nvidia is changing tack.

It's going to license its GPU core technology and its visual computing patent portfolio in search of Android business and let device manufacturers tune the widgetry for their own purposes.

According to CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, "It's not practical to build silicon or systems to address every part of the expanding market. Adopting a new business approach will allow us to address the universe of devices."

See, he figures that "Yesterday's PC industry, which produced several hundred million units a year, will soon become a computing-devices industry that produces many billions of units a year. And visual computing is at the epicenter of it all."

Nvidia isn't a complete stranger to licensing. It licensed an earlier GPU core to Sony for the PlayStation 3, and gets more than $250 million a year from Intel as a license fee for its visual computing patents.

It will start the new program with the GPU core based on its Kepler architecture, which is supposed to be the most advanced and efficient GPU in its stable. It comes with DX11, OpenGL 4.3 and GPGPU capabilities and operates in a half-watt power envelope.

Nvidia expects it will create a new class of licensable GPU cores scalable from smartphones to supercomputers.

Kepler is the basis for the GeForce, Quadro and Tesla GPUs that are currently shipping as well as the next-generation Tegra mobile processor code-named Logan.

Licensing the 5,500 patents portfolio, the results of $6 billion in investments, will give licensees a freer hand.

"This opportunity simply didn't exist several years ago because there was really just one computing device - the PC," Huang said.

The move raised eyebrows as to whether Nvidia was moving Tegras. After all Microsoft's Surface RT is reportedly shucking the Tegra for chips from Qualcomm.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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