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Join Date: Sep 2005
Nvidia releases Tegra processors (Tegra 600 and Tegra 650)
NVIDIA Tegra 600 and Tegra 650 image
YESTERDAY NVIDIA released two processors which it claims have a long battery life and can provide a 'computer on a chip' to surf the World Wide Wibble, play high-end games and display high-definition video. |
The Tegra 600 and Tegra 650 processors have been targeted at portable, visual devices and at Intel's Atom chip playground.
The graphics chipmaker is calling the Tegra CSX 600 and Tegra CSX 650 processors 'computers on a chip' for highly portable, visual devices, and it is aiming squarely at a market also targeted by number-one chipmaker Intel Corp.
NVIDIA Tegra 600 and Tegra 650 specification image
Nvidia is best known for its graphics processors, but has been taking steps toward a mobile future since its purchase of PortalPlayer in 2006. The company is a member of the ARM universe, with an ARM11 processor core at the heart of the Tegra processors.
Nvidia hopes the Tegra chips, which also include its previously announced APX2500 application processor, will go into a broad array of computing devices. But it's aiming first for an emerging category called mobile Internet devices (MIDs).
NVIDIA licensed the Arm 11 CPU for the Tegra line, which is a low power and small die size product. This may be the “core” of the Tegra line, but it may not necessarily be the most important part. Looking over Arm’s site about the Arm 11 architecture, it was originally designed as a 130 nm part with performance up to 2.1 MIPs and scoring around 740 Dhrystone. Doubt that NVIDIA will be using a 130 nm process node to create this part, so it is quite likely that performance of the integrated Arm 11 core could be higher than the above mentioned figures.
NVIDIA Tegra 600 and Tegra 650 Key image
Nvidia's push with Tegra and Intel's own efforts with Atom foreshadow a battle between two types of chip architectures for dominance in the nascent tiny-but-powerful computing market.
The Tegra 600 series processors won't consume more than a watt of power running at either 600MHz or 800MHz, while Atom is capable of exceeding that limit, according to Nvidia.
Mike Rayfield, general manager of Nvidia's mobile business, said MIDs have screens of four to 12 inches in diameter and may have a touchscreen or keyboard, a connection for a game controller or a wireless high-speed internet connection. "The systems now look more like dehydrated notebook computers," Rayfield claims.But super-compact notebooks, smaller even than so-called ultra-mobile personal computers (UMPCs), have already taken off. The Asus Eee PC has been a runaway success, and Intel has said it would not be surprised to see sales of what it calls Netbook PCs such as the Eee top 50 million by 2011.
Rayfield said that while customers are lining up to use the chips in gizmos they are designing, they are not yet willing to disclose their plans. But at a major trade show this week called Computex, he said he wouldn't be surprised to see Taiwanese gadget makers and others let slip a few details.
"By the end of the week, we'll see people talking about the fact that they're designing products around this technology," Rayfield said. "All the initial products will come out of Taiwan; they're the fastest to market."
He said prices for MIDs with Tegra would range from $200 to $250 and be on store shelves by the holiday shopping season.
"If you're looking for performance and good graphics capabilities and the ability of this thing to play HD video and the like, that's pretty cool stuff," said Insight 64 analyst Nathan Brookwood.
Intel was among the first to start bandying about the term, and its Atom family of chips is targeted at MIDs. But Intel and Nvidia both say people are still unsure exactly what a MID is.
The Atom chip family uses its x86 architecture, while ARM'a processors have their own. Intel claims ARM chips grew up out of the communications and mobile-phone markets, insisting its x86 architecture is better suited for computing applications such as gaming and web browsing. Not so, says Nvidia's Rayfield. "ARM is coming from a position of having built the best performance-per-milliwatt devices for the last 10 years or more," he adds. "I'm very comfortable that it's a battle being fought on its turf."
The launch of the Tegra is the latest installment in an increasingly bitter battle between Nvidia and Intel