Former Apple executives found NUVIA Inc with hopes to take on Intel and AMD
A new foe has appeared!
The semiconductor market is ruled by a small oligopoly, but three former Apple executives are looking to shake up the industry and challenge the current kings. NUVIA Inc is a new venture aimed squarely at data centers.
Gerard Williams III (former chief architect of CPUs and SoCs at Apple), Manu Gulati (former executive in the SoC division at Apple), and John Bruno (former executive in the platform architecture group at Apple) officially unveiled NUVIA Inc this week. NUVIA hopes to take on Intel and AMD in the data center market by offering faster and more secure silicon that runs more efficiently.
Since the founders of NUVIA were all involved with systems-on-a-chip (SoCs), which are smaller CPUs and GPUs widely used in smartphones, the shift to data center hardware development is quite a drastic change. While phones run on batteries and thus need efficient hardware to extend runtimes as long as possible, data center hardware is designed primarily for raw power. However, NUVIA may be able to offer a compelling alternative to the electricity-guzzling chips from Intel and AMD.
Williams told Reuters that his team wants “to bring all these aspects that we have developed over time through our careers to this new market and really exploit them in this market, because it’s an area ripe for innovation and advancement.” Considering the impressive performance seen in modern iPhones, NUVIA obviously has experience in squeezing out every last ounce of performance; the company’s founders had direct hands in the development of the chips powering iPhones for years.
On paper, iPhone chips look inferior to the Qualcomm silicon powering Android flagships, but each year, Apple's chips routinely obliterate Android devices in benchmarks and real-world performance. It can be argued that iPhones have been outperforming Android flagships because of software optimizations, but most benchmarks measure direct CPU performance irrespective of software. It’s hard to tell what makes an iPhone so smooth, and the real cause is likely somewhere in the middle.
Either way, NUVIA has garnered its fair share of supporters. Dell Technologies Inc and “several Silicon Valley Firms” have invested $53 million into NUVIA, according to Reuters. That’s helped NUVIA hit the ground running. The company already has plans to expand to 100 employees by year’s end.
It’s unlikely for NUVIA to impact the consumer market in any tangible way, though. The startup seems squarely set on regicide with regard to the reigning data center monarchs. However, data centers power almost everything we do in our increasingly cloud-connected world. NUVIA may be able to make that world more powerful without the demands of current infrastructure.