NUVIA Breaks Cover: New Startup To Take On Datacenter CPU Market

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.