Nvidia has quietly contacted many of the top channel vendors and tier-2 and tier-3 system builders, attempting to put in place an Nvidia Business Platform that will certify new machines and put in place a stable image process that will remain fixed for a years time.
Nvidias program is an outgrowth and complement to AMDs own Commercial Stable Image Platform (CSIP), launched in September 2005 with ATI Technologies, Nvidia, and other companies. Via Technologies launched its own program in February of last year, and ATI has also developed a similar stable-image program as well.
Nvidia executives, however, said that they have gone out to system builders like Acma, Compusys, Equus, and Polywell, and certified them for a range of core components, excluding peripherals. The company has also worked with Microsoft and Altiris to tweak the companys ActiveArmor firewall and ensure that remote-management data traffic can be passed through and the PCs managed. Only North American and European partners are being targeted in the current program.
"Stable images" got their start in the late 1990s, as chipsets from Intel, Via, and others were being designed at a fast and furious rate, and government procurements agents began calling for a more manageable release schedule. The argument they presented was that the accumulated support costs of maintaining and updating the drivers for the various hardware platforms was unnecessarily expensive, part of the underpinnings of the "total cost of ownership" buzzword that evolved as a benchmark for evaluating cost.
Intel later agreed to design a single chipset for its government and large OEM clients, and pledged to use a single software driver, or stable image, for the year-long life of the platform. In January 2003, Intel launched the Stable Image Platform Program, formerly code-named Granite Peak.
Nvidia historically has been a supplier of enthusiast graphics chips and chipsets for home PCs, while AMD has found success in selling its Athlon64 chips to home PCs, and its Opteron line of server microprocessors into corporate environments. But the tier-2 and channel market is a 20-million-unit opportunity largely served by Intel, according to David Ragones, a product manager at Nvidia.
"Weve been in close alignment with AMD with their stable image platform, and were going out together," Ragones said. "Were synchronized with their deployment configuration."