Nvidia's 'Project Denver' takes aim at Intel

The chip will be Nvidia's first CPU and ARM's first PC processor, putting it squarely in a market dominated by Intel and AMD as Nvidia.

A slide shown during Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang hyping up the potential of ARM chips.

A shadowy surprise announcement at the end of Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang's press conference at the 2011 CES trade show in Las Vegas on Wednesday teased "Project Denver," Nvidia's first foray into manufacturing a CPU.

Little is known about the project, except that it's a partnership in which Nvidia will manufacture a "high-performance ARM core" for supercomputing and eventually high-end PC use. Collaboration with Microsoft was strongly hinted at, as Huang brought up a slide that displayed a recent BusinessWeek news headline about Microsoft unveiling Windows for ARM chips at CES.

ARM processors enjoy near ubiquity on mobile platforms, but don't have a foothold in the PC market, which is dominated by Intel and AMD's x86 processors. Intel's new line of "Sandy Bridge" chips, also demonstrated at CES this year, include the ability to process graphics--making things inevitably a bit more tense for Nvidia.

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