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Nvidia launches Tegra 4 processor with LTE

Posted: 10 Jan 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LTE  mobile applications processor  GPU 

Project Shield
With its Project Shield, Nvidia is following Microsoft's footsteps, becoming its own OEM customer for its latest products. The surprise announcement of a hybrid Android-based mobile gaming console and TV video streaming box also deflected attention from Project Denver, the soup-to-nuts family of ARM processors Nvidia announced at CES last year but has yet to release or detail.

Nvidia's Shield is the first system to use the company's new Tegra 4 integrated applications processor. It trumps news from the graphics company's own customers in the same way Microsoft announced its Surface tablet ahead of any Windows 8 mobile devices from its OEMs.

In the wake of Surface, few OEMs have shipped Windows 8 tablets to date. Since its debut late last year, Surface itself has failed to gain as much market traction as many initially expected.

Shield initially got mixed reviews, including one from an editor of Gamasutra who called the hybrid of a portable game player and TV streaming box "a mishmash...and not really a winning combination overall." The review noted many Android portable gaming systems and streaming set-top boxes are coming to the market.

An analyst was more bullish. "No other announced Android-based console comes close to delivering the performance and features of Nvidia's Project Shield," said Patrick Moorhead, principal of Moor Insights and Strategy (Austin). "Shield is flexible in that it runs native Android apps and games as well as PC titles on the consumer's computer and can display on the unit and an HDTV," he said.

Powered by the new Tegra 4 chip, Shield sports a five inch, 720-progressive pixel multi-touch display and runs Android Jelly Bean. It supports 802.11n 2x2 Wi-Fi, HDMI and microSD. The device will go on sale under the Nvidia brand at mid-year.

Whither Project Denver?
The Tegra 4 is a quad core ARM Cortex A15 SoC that comes with a companion LTE soft modem chip developed by start-up Icera, acquired last year by Nvidia.

Last year at CES, Nvidia said it planned a family of 64bit PC processors leveraging Windows 8 as part of a so-called Project Denver, driving systems from laptops to supercomputers. In the past year, Nvidia has kept mum on its plans while Microsoft positioned the ARM-based version of Windows 8, called RT, specifically at tablets.

At an industry dinner late last year, Nvidia chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang told EE Times the company "has a good story" about Project Denver and to stay tuned.

Some analysts expected news on Project Denver at CES. More than a half dozen competitors have announced ARM-based server CPUs in the past year.

"Given that 64bit ARM processors aren't available until 2014, I don't see big issues with Nvidia not mentioning Project Denver," said Moorhead. "CES is a show focused on the one year horizon, primarily what is for sale by the holiday of 2013," he added.

"I wasn't expecting any Project Denver news [due to] its likely focus on server business, which is not a CES focus, but the lack of a roadmap update was disappointing," said Krewell.

- Peter Clarke
  EE Times

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