Graphics chip maker Nvidia Corp. today announced a multi-year partnership with IBM to manufacture some of its graphics chips. The news comes on the heels of a series of delays in the release of Nvidia’s GeForce FX graphics chips, which are just now coming to market after having been introduced last year.
Nvidia’s graphics processors are used in a variety of personal computers and workstation systems. Over the past couple of years, the company has seen broad adoption by Apple across the Macintosh line, from some models of Power Macs to eMac and flat-panel iMac systems, and most recently to Apple’s new 12 and 17 inch PowerBook G4 models. The company does not make its own graphics cards or chips — it’s “fabless.” Nvidia outsources its chip manufacturing to a Taiwanese company called TSMC, and works with third-party card makers and integrators to put its graphics technology into computers and other products. This announcement means that IBM will also assist Nvidia in the actual production of Nvidia’s graphics processors.
Nvidia indicated that it gains access to IBM’s foundry services as part of the arrangement, gaining the ability to use copper wiring technologies and, ultimately, a roadmap that leads to 65nm manufacturing in the next several years. IBM will also provide Nvidia with access to an automated management system to provide better integration across the supply chain, according to the companies.
IBM will start making GeForce processors for Nvidia in its East Fishkill, NY facility. The new facility opened in 2002, and will ramp up capacity throughout 2003. Nvidia continues to work with TSMC to produce many of its graphics processors, as well.
Michel Mayer, IBM Microelectronics Division general manager, said that his company has a “deep customer collaboration” with Nvidia of the kind normally reserved for large OEM partners and IBM’s own server group. “We understand that leading fabless semiconductor companies, like NVIDIA, need to get to market as quick as possible, with the latest technologies, yet need to keep their focus on their customers and products, not on manufacturing.”