Saturday, November 14, 2009

nVidia's TEGRA chipset is revolutionary

Here's a story I filed for Mumbai Mirror yesterday. I met nVidia co-founder along with our band of geeks from Digit, Tech2, Techtree, and Stuff.

Power-saving chipset to make waves in CES


MUMBAI: The revolutionary chipset that powers the Microsoft Zune HD will be seen in a variety of mobile computing devices at next year’s Consumer Electronics Show, said Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO and President of nVidia at a press conference in Mumbai.
“This is the future of computing. Keep an eye for it on CES.” said Jen-Hsun Huang, adding that Tegra-based e-book readers, smartphones,

netbooks, and thin clients would be released by January, which is when CES is held each year. nVidia had a touch-based tablet, a smartbook and a variety of portable media players based on the processor on display at the event.
Powered by an 800 MHz ARM CPU, the Tegra chipset crams an HD video, imaging, audio and a low-power GPU. Basically an entire computer-on-a-chip the size of a RAM stick, it claims to be 10 times more power efficient than current market offerings.
“The beauty of low power design is that the form factor can be exquisite.” said Jen-Hsun Huang.
“We wanted to create a computer that is as good at 1/50th the power.” He said of the chip, which took 5 years and half a billion dollars of R&D to build.
Exploiting nVidia’s strength in graphics capabilities, the Tegra chipset can stream HD video. Comparing an Ion-based netbook with an Atom processor to the Tegra, he said that while the former consumed a total power of 17 watts, the Zune HD consumed only 300 milliwatts. “If you put Tegra on a netbook, it would have battery life of about a week.”
“The Zune is the first of some 50 projects that we are working on. We have introduced all kinds of devices to carriers around the world.” he added.

I asked him about how he was going to deal with the 800 pound gorilla of the scene - Intel, and if he was concerned if their technology was likely to be suppressed, just like the nVidia Ion, which took a long time to get through to the channels.

He started talking about the Anti-trust lawsuit decision yesterday between Intel and AMD. Some of the quotes he gave are just too exciting to not share. I'll transcribe the best parts of the interview later during the week.

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