Posted by: theovalich | January 30, 2009

The End of Wintel saga…beginning of Microvidia and nPhone?

After reading excellent preview piece about Intel’s Moblin V2 over at Phoronix , I spoke with my sources from Microsoft. There isn’t any secret that the Wintel alliance of 1980s and 1990s is slowly, but certainly – drawing to a close. Even though Microsoft executives are refusing to take the blame for their actions in the case of Windows Vista class-action suit, the relationship between Microsoft and Intel dipped to a new all-time low.

When Intel announced project Moblin in 2007, Microsoft frowned upon Intel, given the effort the company put in gearing its next gen OS “Vienna” (aka Windows 7) towards netbooks and MIDs. The love-hate relationship begun with Intel frowning on Microsoft in the case of Xbox 360 and AMD’s 64-bit instruction set “x86-64″ (AMD64). But with the Moblin V2 Core OS coming to life, Intel is threatening Microsoft for the very first time on Microsoft’s home turf – software.

Our sources claim that upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 is just a preparation for Windows Mobile 7, OS that will cover smartphones, GPS devices and MIDs from the lower end segment, topped with Windows 7 Embedded Edition for the higher end spectrum of GPS/MID/Netbook market. The company that gave Microsoft a helping hand is no other than Nvidia. Bear in mind that it was ATI Technologies that worked hand-in-hand with Microsoft on Windows Mobile 6, 6.5 and 7, but AMD’s leadership (should we write, lack of?) sold that part for small change to Freescale and Qualcomm. This is for the second time in two years that AMD walked away from the market it helped create (OLPC and netbooks were the first), and Jen-Hsun is probably the luckiest guy in the world. All he needs to do is watch what markets AMD is investing in right now, and then walk right in as soon as AMD starts to walk out. Personally, I just don’t understand AMD – the company spends millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours developing projects that the company will walk out from, loose brilliant people in the process, and then nobody will point a finger when a company melts down with more than $3B losses in 2008 alone.

Getting back on the story, I was surprised to hear that Nvidia works hand-in-hand with Microsoft on that level. Previously, my MSFT sources always mentioned Intel and ATI/AMD, but now, the company that is most spoken of is Graphzilla from Satan Clara. Oddly how world turns. That also answered my question why Nvidia shunned Nokia’s offer and sold hundreds of millions of Tegra chips to this Finnish giant. Jen-Hsun thinks Windows Mobile is safer bet than Symbian OS. Looking from this perspective, he might even be right.

Even in prototype form, this nPhone dev platform showed great promise. Time for limelight is approaching...

Even in prototype form, this nPhone dev platform showed great promise. Time for limelight is approaching...

Even though the 1st gen Tegra (APX2500) or 2nd gen Tegra (600/650) didn’t exactly showed up in smartphones when we expected them, it turned out that first and second generation were nothing but Trojan horses for Nvidia in the handheld market. Tegra 600/650 is based on GeForce 6 chip, while Tegra 700(?) is looking up for a debut this year with CUDA-capable and OpenCL-capable GeForce 9 core. 3rd generation Tegra is the SoC that will have Microsoft backing, so nPhone isn’t a concept, but a reality. Windows Mobile 7 + Tegra 700 should be the winning combination for Microsoft in the mobile space, as a payback to Intel.

In fact, don’t be surprised if Microsoft decides to give Nvidia’s Ion a helping hand by offering Windows 7 and Windows XP deals on MIDs and netbooks on Intel Atom+GeForce 9400, and shunning Intel’s integrated graphics parts. When this scenario comes to life, don’t be surprised if you read “Wintel is dead” comments from bloggers and editors on their respective networks.

Just remember where you read it first ;-)

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  1. Intel did this to themselves, by making weak onboard GPUs with buggy drivers and saying that all we need is a CPU to do it all. Now look what happend.

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