Nvidia Unleashes Tegra System-on-Chip for Handheld Devices

Nvidia Tegra Enters the Scene to Fight Against Intel, Infineon, Samsung

Nvidia Corp. on Monday introduced its first system-on-chip (SoC) components for mobile Internet devices (MIDs). The new Nvidia Tegra chips enable gaming and high-definition video on handheld personal computers and complement similar SoCs for smartphones launched earlier this year, but what is not completely clear is whether end-users actually demand such functionality in their pockets.

Nvidia Tegra 600-series SoCs features ARM11 central processing unit core, GeForce graphics core with programmable pixel shader and programmable vertex shader support, build-in low-power DDR memory controller, NAND flash memory controller, high-definition video processor that supports MPEG 4, H.264, VC-1/WMV9 decoding, H.264 and MPEG4 encoding and features some other capabilities. Besides, Tegra 600 and Tegra 650 support two displays, 12MPixel camera sensor, USB, Parallel ATA a variety of display outputs, including HDMI, as well as other necessary interfaces.

Nvidia Tegra 600 and 650 system-on-chips complement Nvidia Tegra APX 2500 processor for smartphones that was introduced earlier this year and feature higher performance and better functionality, which may be valuable for mobile Internet devices and personal media players.

“Creating Tegra was a massive challenge. Our vision was to create a platform that will enable the 2nd personal computer revolution – which will be mobile centric, with devices that last days on a single charge, and yet has the Web, high definition media, and computing experiences we’ve come to expect from our PC,” said said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive officer at Nvidia.

Nvidia has not indicated any actual performance or power consumption figures as they mostly depend on actual implementation, the amount of memory as well as screen size. However, the company claimed that Nvidia Tegra 650-based devices will be able to playback music for 130 hours and high-definition video for 30 hours.

“Shrinking down a 50W PC architecture will not create the discontinuity this industry needs. The culmination of nearly 1000 man years of engineering, Tegra is a completely ground-up computer-on-a-chip architecture that consumes 100 times less power. Mobile internet and computing devices built with Tegra are going to be magical,” added Mr. Huang.

It is indisputable fact that demand towards rich multimedia experience on mobile devices is growing these days, a good example of this growing demand is improving of Apple iPod portable digital media player functionality. What should be noted is that hardly a lot of people demand high-definition video or 3D video games on a small device: hardly anyone would watch high-def movies by connecting HDTV to a portable player or play a 3D video game using a touch-screen interface. Using Nvidia Tegra to create so-called netbooks is also not the best idea: desktop Windows operating systems do not support ARM microprocessors; furthermore, performance of even 800MHz ARM core is hardly sufficient even for Microsoft Windows XP Home edition.

The first Nvidia Tegra 600-series and Nvidia Tegra APX 2500-based devices are expected to begin shipping in late 2008, according to Nvidia. The company did not disclose any supporters of Tegra apart from Microsoft Corp., which supports ARM processors with its Windows Mobile platform.


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