Nvidia plan for CPUs marks major disruption in PC processor choices

Stodgy state of chip market upended by tablets, smart devices

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That demand is the same whether end users are talking about smarter, smaller phones, handier tablets, lighter notebooks, or more intelligence and network connections in devices completely unrelated to IT -- TVs, audio equipment, cars and nearly any other device that can have a processor squeezed into it, in the kitchen, the gym, the outdoors or the nursery.

Intel and AMD have had the PC market to themselves until now, just as Nvidia has been able to dominate the discrete-GPU market since AMD bought ATi in 2006.

There are a lot of other companies out there able to build low-power processors, though. With market changes as big as those going on now, there are opportunities for all of them to acquire, engineer or market themselves into new positions that will disrupt the stodgy status quo in the chip market and will probably give customers more power for less money.

Other than the tit-for-tat GPU competition between Intel and Nvidia, that may not have a huge impact on IT this year. If you're planning for non-PC form factors for end users or smarter equipment for your supply chain, manufacturing or distribution networks, though, the variety of hardware platforms and chips on which they run is going to get much, much wider.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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