Founded by former senior Apple CPU architects, NUVIA for the first time publicly revealed its existence with the announcement of a successful first investment round. The company broke cover with the press release that it completed a Series A funding round of $53 million from a group of major investors:

“The funding round was co-led by prominent Silicon Valley investors Capricorn Investment Group, Dell Technologies Capital, Mayfield and WRVI Capital, with additional participation from Nepenthe LLC.”

What’s special about NUVIA is that this isn’t your ordinary silicon-valley start-up company trying to find success with a new idea, but rather group of industry heavy-weights with extremely impressive resumes:

“NUVIA was founded in early 2019 with the goal of reimagining silicon design to deliver industry-leading performance and energy efficiency for the data center. The company was founded by John Bruno, Manu Gulati and Gerard Williams III, who have collectively driven system engineering and silicon design for more than 20 chips, with more than 100 patents granted to date. NUVIA’s founders bring a rich silicon design heritage, having held a diverse array of engineering leadership roles at Google, Apple, ARM, Broadcom and AMD.”

The founding trio of Bruno, Gulati and Williams were key high-level architects at Apple whose expertise brought fruition to many generations of Apple’s SoCs and CPU microarchitectures. Williams was the chief architect on all of Apple’s CPU designs, including the recent Lightning core in the A13.

NUVIA’s goals are to create new chip and CPU designs that are aiming to compete at the highest performance levels in the datacentre market, aiming for an upheaval in the industry for what the company describes as “A step-function increase in compute performance and power efficiency”.

What gives credibility to the new company’s lofty goals is the founder’s track record of their past designs. Apple’s silicon success over the last half decade has been one of the most impressive developments in the industry, and it seems NUVIA has been able to recruit top talent with the aim to reproduce such success in the datacentre market.

NUVIA’s business model isn’t exactly clear at the moment, however given its hiring positions it looks like the company is aiming to create a new server SoC with a new custom CPU microarchitecture, essentially a new ground-up design, positioning the company as aiming to be a direct competitor to other vendors such as Intel, AMD and Marvell.

The company currently hasn’t disclosed the ISA the new designs would be working on, but given the engineer’s extensive experience with Arm processors I wouldn’t be surprised if it will be an ARMv9 design.

We’re expecting to hear more from NUVIA over the coming months and years, and looking forward if the new design teams will be able to deliver on its goals.

Source: NUVIA Press Release

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  • Beaver M. - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - link

    The world? I dont see CPU manufacturers popping up here and there and challenging Intel and AMD. Only this one. As consumers, we dont need them. Period. They cant reinvent the wheel.
    GPUs however are years behind. And Windows is an absolute nightmare since version 10. A lot of the world is agreeing on this.
  • mode_13h - Monday, November 18, 2019 - link

    If you don't see new CPUs popping up here and there, then you don't read this site enough.

    The problem with the consumer GPU market is that it has high barriers to entry and it's very mature (meaning products are very refined and feature-rich, so it's hard to find grounds on which to compete). Most importantly, the consensus (and long-term trend) is that it will shrink, while cloud is a growth market.

    However, as China is moving to cut ties with foreign suppliers, I expect they'll have desktop GPUs, before too long. Initially, they won't need to be very good, since they can be subsidized. After a while, they'll probably even be competitive.
  • eastcoast_pete - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - link

    Interesting! Could be a serious contender if they get something based on ARM v9 out of the gate in the next 24 months. Given the people involved, ARM might just see them as the proof of concept partner they could use for v9 in the server space. A bit surprised that Amazon isn't involved; AWS would be a logical customer/investor.
  • mode_13h - Monday, November 18, 2019 - link

    ARM has their own server cores, which these guys presumably would be competing against.

    Amazon already has their own ARM-based server chips, designed in-house (except using off-the-shelf cores, allegedly).
  • Opencg - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    When a buch of people with really big egos, group together to claim they are going to do something amazing, with really not that much money compared to the already established contenders, and solutions that probably nobody is going to want to learn to program for. Their main asset is their really really huge egos and that idiots will probably run to throw money at them knowing nothing about the market and realistic expectations.
  • mode_13h - Monday, November 18, 2019 - link

    These guys have a track record of delivering. I don't think they would embark on anything they didn't think had a decent chance of succeeding. In particular, Apple's chips are literally & consistently the best - you need a lot more than ego to pull that off.

    Likewise, their investors probably aren't noobs. That's less certain, but if you're planning to enter an existing market, I think most VCs are probably rather good at spotting BS and making sure they have a plausible path to profitability.
  • Qthulu - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    when you make a startup with the intent to sell it and retire. The question of competition is usually moot.
  • mode_13h - Monday, November 18, 2019 - link

    I'm sure the founders could already retire, if that's really what they wanted to do.
  • Arch Davis - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    I say "a billion transistors is a terrible thing to waste."
    Facebook complained years ago that Intel and AMD CPUs were not efficiently hosting their app.
    It is possible this startup is trying to re-engineer the silicon to conform more closely to the needs of online apps. The mindless proliferation of cores with the same old APIs just does not efficiently use all of these transistors that are available with our process technologies.
  • Brane2 - Monday, November 18, 2019 - link

    If it is anything really radically new that would justify that "step increase" claim, it will be 5 years before we see anything from them again and 10 years before actual product line on the shelves.

    That also means that they have to find their solutions for connection matrix and CPU cores.

    I'm more than a bit skeptical at this point, especially before hearing anything concrete about their plan.

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