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Nvidia shifts mobile focus to embedded systems, cars

Posted: 27 Mar 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:GPU? VR? cloud? servers?

Nvidia's annual GPU Technology Conference saw the roll out of its updated high-end consumer graphics card and a general-purpose GPU appliance for the enterprise. The company also teamed up with VMWare to enable a GPU cloud service and worked with NVLink for a chip-to-chip interface. Virtual reality gear, gesture recognition software, car computers, and plenty of server GPU servers running on Nvidia chips were in full display across the show floor.

The big headline from the event was Pascal, Nvidia's next-generation core graphics processor. The chip will debut in 2016 using a 2.5D chip stack with the GPU and a DRAM stack side-by-side on a silicon interposer based on TSMC's CoWoS technology.

Nvidia shifts mobile focus to embedded systems, cars

Huang confirmed in a brief hallway chat that Pascal will use a 2.5-D stack based on TSMC's CoWoS technology.

The move marks a significant step forward for 3D stacks, but not as big a one as Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang described just a year ago here. At that time he announced Volta, a 2015 processor suggesting it could use Micron's Hybrid Memory Cube as part of a 3D stack.

Pascal may still tap Micron's HMC but it now has a new name and is at least a year further away. What's more it is not yet the full kind of 3D vertical stack the industry has been working towards for years but still faces technical and business hurdles.

Huang suggested Pascal's use of the 2.5D stacking and the new NVLink will help break through the memory bottleneck of current systems using PC Express.

"The last time I looked the only one seriously shipping 3D ICs was Xilinx, so if Nvidia gets behind the technology, it will help more people believe it is viable," said Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight64 (Saratoga, Calif.).

The 2.5D version of Pascal is only expected to be used in high-performance computing clusters, a market generally of less than 100,000 units per year, said Jim McGregor, principal of Tirias Research.

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