Event Coverage

NVIDIA's Head Honchos Speak - Computing Trends and Platform Updates

By Vijay Anand - 24 Sep 2010

Mobile Computing with Tegra & The Next Big Thing

Mobile Computing Update with Tegra

The traditional PC space is steadily moving towards the mobile arena. As such, the Tegra will be the company's fastest growing personal computer business. Most of the portable devices we own today are all potential for Tegra to power them in future.

  • New growth areas in the near future is surely in the mobile computing arena by partnering large providers like Nokia, Motorola and more to drive their mobile offerings.
  • Tegra's focus will focus on solutions for tablets, mobile phones, smart TVs, mini notebooks and even automotive industries. The Tegra chip is versatile enough that it can practically be implemented in countless areas other than those mentioned. All it needs is a partner who's open to new integration ideas.
  • The upcoming Tegra 2 chip will primarily focus on the Android OS platform. Other OS options are a possibility, but those will be evaluated for later.
  • Current announced vendors working with NVIDIA on Tegra 2 products are LG and Toshiba with many more under wraps for the time being.
  • Wireless modems will continue to be kept outside of the main Tegra chip design to ensure the core is adaptable easily for multiple markets and operating requirements. As such NVIDIA finds that it's more advantageous to work with wireless modem specialists to move quickly with the market needs.
  • 3D Vision on mobile Tegra equipped devices is a possibility in the future. Small devices can use displays that can be 3D ready without needing glasses. Furthermore, these devices might even have 3D stereo capture possibilities integrated.
  • CUDA and PhysX on Tegra is a possible implementation in the future, but not at the moment due to the low processing throughput.
  • When Tegra chips progress enough, they could possible tackle PC gaming on Tegra equipped devices through the OpenGL ES 2.0 API, which is easy for developers to port their existing content from the PC and other platforms.
  • Like other mobile chip designs, Tegra will go multi-core as it's going to be the prevalent design for performance mobile processors in time to come. For example, running dual 500MHz cores is more power efficient than operating a single 1GHz core. Race-to-Sleep will be an integral part of the chip design to ensure optimum
    processor usage and maximum battery life. In the future, Tegra chips may even boast of 'turbo boost' like functionality to make best use of the chip's TDP parameters, but that's at a much later stage.
  • At this point of time, Tegra 3 design is almost done, while Tegra 4 is on the drawing board.

Here's a Tegra 2 based prototype tablet that we spotted at the show floor. It's basically a development kit for several application developers.

When the press asked Jen-Hsun if NVIDIA should develop their own OS to speedup adoption of Tegra based devices, Jen-Hsun had quite a bit to, including mudsling their competition:-

"No. We should do something only if we can make a significant contribution to the world. And only if we're very good at it. There are parts of the operating system which we're very good at, like API, middleware, system software. Can we make a contribution? That is answered by asking if there are other alternatives around. The world right now has several good alternatives. iOS, BB OS, Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Meego.

Intel chose to work with Meego, the number 6th OS. There is actually no such thing as the number sixth OS, and the reason is because operating systems need developers and the developers don't want to work on number six because they can work on the others, especially the number one and two OS types. So why is Intel working with Meego? The reason for that is because all of the others do not support x86. So if they don't do Meego, they would be number zero. Intel has no choice; Why else is Intel building AppUp? Because if Intel doesn't do AppUp, who will? There's no app store for x86. It does not exist. Nobody else is doing it because x86 has no mobile future. X86 is the enterprise past. So why would NVIDIA build yet another OS? Because NVIDIA can choose to work with the top mobile OS providers, who already run on ARM based processors."

The Next Big Thing...

Jen-Hsun believes that the next hot commodity would be 'Super Phones'. These are devices that are larger than conventional smartphones, but are still handier than tablets. This is also the area where NVIDIA is aiming Tegra 2 to fill the new slew of products. He expects to see super phones to be in retail by this Christmas and sustain the cool factor as the next big thing in mobile computing/devices for years to come.

More tablets will certainly come and be popular as a content consumption device - again an area that Tegra 2 will fill the role nicely. However, Jen-Hsun believes super phones might still outpace interest of tablets (comparatively speaking).

For Jen-Hsun, the ultimate super phone would be one that he can rely upon for all usage needs on the move that he won't ever need to lug a notebook again. For that to happen, more features and standards will need to be crammed. Some of his expectations are even higher resolution screens, Wireless HDMI and more. Just like how the desktop PC has given way to notebooks where revenue and growth are concerned, the next shift will occur with super phones disrupting both the PC and notebook markets.

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