updated 12:15 pm EDT, Fri August 1, 2008
NVIDIA May Exit Chipsets
(Updated with analyst commentary) NVIDIA may quit the mainboard chipset industry entirely just as it's rumored to be expanding into new areas, if a claim from companies producing the final mainboards themselves. The California-based creator of the nForce line has allegedly held a meeting this week to determine whether it should continue producing chipsets at all but has been met with "silence," hinting both that NVIDIA was already considering an exit but also that weak demand gives it little reason to continue.
Some of these partners have already made their intentions clear by canceling mainboards that would use the nForce 7-series chipset, the report argues. The line is NVIDIA's flagship and gives both AMD- and Intel-based computers support for advanced performance features such as quad SLI, which teams up four video cards to accelerate 3D on one display.
SLI's future would be uncertain without a company dedicated to supporting it and would potentially hand a victory to AMD, which already ensures CrossFire support not just on mainboards that support its Athlon and Phenom processors but also certain Intel-based reference designs.
If substantiated, the news would also be potentially fatal to a speculated NVIDIA deal with Apple for a custom computer platform that would use Intel processors. While the rumor that triggered the speculation didn't name any company as a potential designer, NVIDIA has been suggested given the performance of its first notebook platform and would leave Apple without a supplier for at least some of its Macs once NVIDIA completely phased out its chipset development.
It's not known whether any purported shutdown of the nForce line would be complete, and NVIDIA itself has contradicted the rumor by publicly challenging Intel over the performance of integrated mainboard graphics.
Update: Lehman analyst Tim Luke has spoken to NVIDIA executives, who deny the rumor and claim the company is "committed" to its nForce line, which makes up as much as 18 percent of its total sales revenue.