NUVIA: New Server CPU Startup Going After Intel and AMDby Andrei Frumusanu on November 15, 2019 12:00 PM EST
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Founded by former senior Apple CPU architects, NUVIA for the first time publicly revealed its existence with the announcement of a successful first investment round. The company broke cover with the press release that it completed a Series A funding round of $53 million from a group of major investors:
“The funding round was co-led by prominent Silicon Valley investors Capricorn Investment Group, Dell Technologies Capital, Mayfield and WRVI Capital, with additional participation from Nepenthe LLC.”
What’s special about NUVIA is that this isn’t your ordinary silicon-valley start-up company trying to find success with a new idea, but rather group of industry heavy-weights with extremely impressive resumes:
“NUVIA was founded in early 2019 with the goal of reimagining silicon design to deliver industry-leading performance and energy efficiency for the data center. The company was founded by John Bruno, Manu Gulati and Gerard Williams III, who have collectively driven system engineering and silicon design for more than 20 chips, with more than 100 patents granted to date. NUVIA’s founders bring a rich silicon design heritage, having held a diverse array of engineering leadership roles at Google, Apple, ARM, Broadcom and AMD.”
The founding trio of Bruno, Gulati and Williams were key high-level architects at Apple whose expertise brought fruition to many generations of Apple’s SoCs and CPU microarchitectures. Williams was the chief architect on all of Apple’s CPU designs, including the recent Lightning core in the A13.
NUVIA’s goals are to create new chip and CPU designs that are aiming to compete at the highest performance levels in the datacentre market, aiming for an upheaval in the industry for what the company describes as “A step-function increase in compute performance and power efficiency”.
What gives credibility to the new company’s lofty goals is the founder’s track record of their past designs. Apple’s silicon success over the last half decade has been one of the most impressive developments in the industry, and it seems NUVIA has been able to recruit top talent with the aim to reproduce such success in the datacentre market.
NUVIA’s business model isn’t exactly clear at the moment, however given its hiring positions it looks like the company is aiming to create a new server SoC with a new custom CPU microarchitecture, essentially a new ground-up design, positioning the company as aiming to be a direct competitor to other vendors such as Intel, AMD and Marvell.
The company currently hasn’t disclosed the ISA the new designs would be working on, but given the engineer’s extensive experience with Arm processors I wouldn’t be surprised if it will be an ARMv9 design.
We’re expecting to hear more from NUVIA over the coming months and years, and looking forward if the new design teams will be able to deliver on its goals.
Source: NUVIA Press Release
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Reflex - Friday, November 15, 2019 - linkIt depends on how much vapor Tachyum ultimately produces...
tipoo - Friday, November 15, 2019 - linkARMv9? Is this speculation or do we know anything about a successor to v8?
name99 - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - linkAndrei has mentioned its existence a few times, but nothing more than that appears to exist in the public record.
I'm guessing he was probably talking to an ARM person as a journalist on the record, saying something like "ARMv8 is picking up minor revisions every year. Do you ever wish you had the chance for a do-over, to fix it with everything you know now?", the ARM person said "Well of course we are working on a successor, ARMv9" then immediately realized "OMG, I've said too much" and refused to answer any more questions...
ksec - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - linkARMv9 was a reference when ARM clears Huawei of using ARM technology and that both its ARMv8 and v9 are British Tech rather than US.
So all we know is ARM has v9 in the making and nothing more, and a notes to its investor that even future ARM design would not have any problems with US security restrictions.
Andrei Frumusanu - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - linkArm has publicly stated that Matterhorn is a new architecture, so expect v9 silicon in your phone by the end of 2021.
name99 - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - linkSo A14 or A15?
Maybe THAT’s what’s gating the ARM Mac? Irritating to introduce only one generation on ARMv8 then have to support it for 7+ years...
mode_13h - Monday, November 18, 2019 - linkI wonder when ARMv7 support will finally be dropped from ARMv8 chips. Maybe in ARMv9 cores?
mode_13h - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - linkWhat's needed for a truly revolutionary rethink of CPUs is to change the boundary between HW and SW, in a few places. And I'm fairly confident in saying that's well beyond the capability of a little startup. It needs at least one huge customer, with a full software stack and long-term vision, to partner with a chip maker of at least AMD's size and capability. But, right now, I feel like AMD is getting pulled in too many directions to take on such a project.
The other thing we can say is that China will not be buying these CPUs. So, that means the bulk of their sales would have to go to a half dozen or so cloud operators and hyperscalers. If they don't already have a couple of those big customers lined up, out of the gate, I'd say they're probably on thin ice.
Dell is not going to create markets for them. People don't buy Dell for bleeding edge - they buy Dell for tried-and-true solutions, all nicely packaged up and well-supported. So, the mere fact of having funding from Dell doesn't really do anything to solve their customer situation.
Beaver M. - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - linkWe dont need new CPU manufacturers. We need new GPU manufacturers and a real alternative to Windows.
mode_13h - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - linkSorry, the world doesn't agree with your priorities.
Anyway, I'd imagine a couple Chinese GPUs are in the works. So, after Intel launches their Xe GPUs, that'll probably be the next market entrant you can anticipate.
BTW, it'd be interesting if someone scaled up Imagination's GPU architecture to build PC GPUs. I wonder how ARM's off-the-self Mali cores would scale, or Qualcomm's Adreno, for that matter. With Qualcomm's chips now getting into Windows laptops, they basically already have a toe in the water.