AS CHIP GIANT Intel released its latest assault on the desktop graphics market with Sandy Bridge, Nvidia chose to show off its not so new Tegra 2 system on chip (SoC).
Jen Hsun Huang, president and CEO of Nvidia spent the first ten minutes of his speech reminscing about how Microsoft's Windows 95 was a watershed moment for computing. As he reeled off memories of revolutionary equipment from the past 15 years it was interesting to see Huang not mention Nvidia once during the extended prelude into what turned out to be more of a smartphone launch for LG.
Proclaiming the Tegra 2 as "the mobile super chip", Huang said that Nvidia had focused on multi-tasking capabilities, something that is evident from the fact that Tegra 2 is a dual core SoC built on ARM architecture. Huang also revealed that Nvidia has been working with Adobe to create what the firm claims is the first chip with hardware acceleration for Adobe's Flash player.
To show off the Tegra 2 chip, Huang whipped out an LG Optimus X2, a device that seems to offer little on the outside but manages to pack quite a punch. The live Flash demonstrations were impressive, especially when hooked up to a large display through the built in HDMI output. But Huang dropped a clanger when he said that the Optimus X2 is the first mobile phone to have HDMI output, something that Nokia N8 users have enjoyed for some time now.
Finally Shantanu Narayen, the CEO of Adobe came on stage to try to cement the success of Flash 10.1, saying that has "the fastest adoption of any Flash version". Huang quizzed Narayen as to what Adobe's stance on HTML 5 versus Flash is, with Narayen replying that it is a "non issue for Adobe as it tries to produce the best tools for any particular standard, and that if a standard doesn't exist, Adobe would create it".
On the surface, Nvidia's Tegra 2 is an impressive bit of chip technology. There's no doubt that the Green Goblin has concentrated on optimising its chip for multimedia, but what wasn't visible in the demonstrations was the cost to battery life of being able to play games and Flash so well.
If Nvidia can get power management under control, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Samsung and even Apple might have something to worry about. µ
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