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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ChronoReverse - Friday, November 15, 2019 - linkAny possibility of RISC-V?
Andrei Frumusanu - Friday, November 15, 2019 - linkGiven that RISC-V hasn't finalised the vector extensions as of yet I somehow have doubts at this point in time. Then again it would be awfully expensive for a startup to get an Arm architecture license.
lmcd - Friday, November 15, 2019 - linkCould be OpenPOWER or MIPS, particularly the former with all the existing work done on the arch.
webdoctors - Friday, November 15, 2019 - linkThe license isn't actually needed though. Until you start manufacturing physical devices, you can design, create, prototype your design even without the ARM license, because you're not officially profitting off the lack of a license.But IANAL.
zmatt - Friday, November 15, 2019 - linkBut without opening up your wallet you aren't getting access to the technical data around the arch.
PhilipJ - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - linkGiven the people who're behind this company they might not really need to as they've worked with that technical data for a fair few years
levizx - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - linkSo you memorise every single techinical details of all your work?
catavalon21 - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link"That technical data" is usually the IP of the company you worked for, and most companies have legal protections for their proprietary IP. A quick search of the US PTO database shows Mr. Gulati's name on patents issued to Apple. He's the inventor - they are the grantee of the patent. I expect the specific tech his patents were granted to would request ponying up large sums of licensing money. Let's see - IIRC, Apple's lawyers went after companies trying to use the lower case letter "i" as the first letter of a product name followed by all capitals; I can't imagine this would get a free pass.
The very reason this start-up is focusing on data center is the same reason the companies with existing tech will rabidly defend it - it's where the big money is.
As others noted, it will be interesting to follow their progress.
jospoortvliet - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - linkYes, you do, ARM specifically has a free license to use during the design phase.
Brane2 - Monday, November 18, 2019 - linkRISC-V is nice, but probably irrelevant point here.
It is meant to compete in ARM/MIPS etc class of cores, not as qualitatively new approach.
It is nice that it is open, but that in itself won't bring the advantage that is claimed here...