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MWC: Nvidia wants to cut mobile chips product cycle time

Aims for faster turnaround
Wed Feb 16 2011, 15:34

CHIP DESIGN HOUSE Nvidia has said it plans to follow a PC-like release schedule for its mobile Tegra chips.

Nvidia has followed up its dual core Tegra 2 launch at last month's CES by unveiling Kal-el, the codename for the Tegra 3. Kal-el is a quad core chip with 12 Geforce cores and Nvidia presented it at Mobile World Congress as a technology preview.

Matt Wuebbling, senior product manager for Nvidia's notebook products said that Nvidia will be "trying to lower the cadence in mobile chips", meaning that it aims to shorten the time from first showing a chip to delivering it in commercial products. He said that the Green Goblin will try to replicate its strategy of annual product cycles that it tries to use for desktop graphics chips.

When asked why Nvidia had relatively few design wins with its first generation Tegra chip, Wuebbling said it was a combination of being a new firm and that Tegra was designed for use in Windows Mobile systems. Tegra 2 on the other hand is geared towards handsets that use Google's Android operating system.

Wuebbling was quick to add that Tegra 2 can support other operating systems such as Windows Phone 7 and that the firm will entertain any customer that wants Tegra support on other operating systems.

In a live demonstration, Nvidia's Kal-el chip certainly showed the gaming performance you would expect from an Nvidia chip, but Wuebbling said that it isn't all about raw power. "Multi-core lowers power draw, as the cores can be run at lower frequency," a view echoed by other chip designers and manufacturers.

Nvidia has said that devices based on Tegra 3 will appear in August, which was confirmed by Wuebbling. The chap demonstrating Tegra 3 for The INQUIRER mentioned that August will see Tegra 3 tablets tip up with smartphones coming later.

Wuebbling also said that another offshoot from following a PC-like product cycle will be that today's high-end will end up as tomorrow's mid-range product. He wouldn't confirm if that means the dual core Tegra 2 that was shown off at CES will tip up in a handset that doesn't cost the best part of £500.

Either way, Nvidia must be given credit for unveiling a technology preview at MWC and confidently saying that products based on the new chip will ship within six months. Wuebbling said that Nvidia's decision to show off Tegra 3 should not hurt sales of Tegra 2, as most people will not want to wait for the high-end performance of its Tegra 2 chip.

If Nvidia really does follow through on creating a product cycle similar to that of its desktop parts, that could lead users to start to wait for high-end mobile technology at mid-range prices. µ


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