NVIDIA at a Morgan Stanley conference today said it hopes to have an x86 compatible system-on-chip within two to three years. The company's Investor Relations Senior VP Michael Hara argues that an all-in-one processor, which includes the additional media processing and other features needed to power a handheld or netbook, "makes sense" and that Intel's x86 is very likely the architecture of choice in the specified timeframe. There is "no question on our mind" about using it, Hara says of the technology.
In justifying the tentative roadmap, he notes that the existing Tegra family of chips already effectively provide a system-on-chip and that this level of integration is likely to extend into more general computing. Although separating the general processor from companion chips is effective enough today, smaller computers and portable devices may increasingly depend on all-in-one processing to accomplish the same task.
Hara's statements appear to back rumors of early x86 chip work at NVIDIA but also set up a likely conflict between the normally graphics-oriented company and Intel. NVIDIA has encountered stiff resistance from Intel in trying to garner support for its Ion platform for Atom chips and is just this year facing a lawsuit from Intel over claims that hopes to build mainboard chipsets for Core i7 would violate a long-term licensing deal.