RealTime IT News

The Tegra Flood Begins in 2010

nVidia continues to accumulate design wins for Tegra, its combined GPU/ARM processor for the handheld device market, with more than 70 design wins signed and preparing to delivery product.

CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made the announcement yesterday during a post-keynote press conference at the GPU Technology Conference, declaring that we can expect a very big Tegra launch/product push in early 2010. He described this launch as a "massive" one but didn't get into details, other than to say Tegra's power consumption while idle makes it suitable for mobile phones.

The Tegra chip consists of an ARM processor and GeForce GPU. It is capable of 720p or 1080i high definition video playback while consuming less than one watt of power. So far, it only has two design wins on the market: the Microsoft Zune HD and Samsung M1 portable media players.

Zune has failed to rack up much of a record in its attempts to grab market share from Apple's ubiquitous iPod, but the recently launched Zune HD has been getting very good reviews. BetaNews called it "the best portable media player you may never buy," owing to its failure against the iPod.

Reports from Asia also indicate that ODMs are preparing netbooks running Tegra and Google's ChromeOS, and Mike Rayfield, the senior vice president and general manager of nVidia's mobile business unit, told mobile computing site jkOnTheRun that nVidia is working with Google to bring Chrome OS to the Tegra.

An nVidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) spokesperson added that the company is also planning to support Windows CE, Windows Mobile, Android and Linux on Tegra, depending on the device and usage model

During his keynote, Huang showed a netbook running an ION processor, a GPU/Atom combination, and compared the performance of HD video playback against a netbook without Tegra. The Tegra device was smooth, with no skipping, while the HD video on the non-Tegra device looked like a slide show.

Dean McCarron, president of Mercury Research, said nVidia has talked about diversifying beyond the graphics card for gamers base that made it rich for some time now, and is doing well with Tegra.

"This is one of the areas where they got some traction. They are just parlaying what they learned with the graphics market, integrating it with a CPU to expand into a bigger market that might have a bigger TAM [Total Available Market] for nVidia," he told InternetNews.com.

The proof, however, will be in the products, and McCarron figured nVidia hadn't wanted to miss Christmas -- but that's now likely beyond its control. "Deployment might be going slower. I'm sure they'd rather have 70 design wins going into production in August than in January so they could have that holiday window, but these things take time," he said.