SAN JOSE: CHIP DESIGNER Nvidia said at its GPU Technology Conference (GTC) on Thursday that it will produce Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 chips for 10 years.
Nvidia is trying to crack the automotive market with its Tegra chips and has scored some impressive production wins, including the Tesla Model S and Lamborghini's Aventador. The firm told The INQUIRER that because of this its automotive Tegra chips will be in production for 10 years.
Nvidia's Tegra 3 powers the centre console display on Tesla's Model S with the instrument panel generated by a Tegra 2 chip. Philip Hughes, director of Automotive Sales and Business Development at Nvidia told The INQUIRER that car makers expect chips to be in production for up to 10 years and said that the present crop of Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 chips will be in production 10 years from now.
Chip vendors such as Nvidia are trying to get into the automotive market because its product cycles are much longer than those of consumer electronics products. This means that Nvidia, in addition to ensuring that its chips pass more stringent validation tests, will be able to continue selling relatively old chips such as the Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 for years after they become obsolete and useless in the consumer market.
Hughes said this protracted lifetime is something new for Nvidia, but given that it doesn't have to maintain physical inventory as it outsources chip manufacturing to TSMC, the only problem is ensuring the process node remains active for ten years, which is not such an issue. While TSMC's leading edge 28nm process node gets most industry attention, it still maintains its 130nm process node, for example, which first appeared 13 years ago.
So while it is unlikely Nvidia that will ship many Tegra 3 chips to tablet makers in 2014, car makers will be receiving trays of Tegra 3 chips through 2023, with Nvidia's profit margins growing all the time. µ