Nvidia on Sunday announced a processor line-up it believes will power a new class of fast, small devices with long battery life that can surf the full Internet, play high-end games and video.
The graphics chipmaker is calling the Tegra 600 and
Tegra 650 processors "computers on a chip" for highly
portable, visual devices, and it is aiming squarely at a
market also targeted by No. 1 chipmaker Intel.
Nvidia hopes the Tegra chips, which also include its
previously announced application processor APX2500 used
in smartphones and handsets, will go into a broad array
of computing devices. But it's aiming first for an
emerging category called mobile Internet devices, or
Intel was among the first to start bandying about the
term, and its Atom family of chips is targeted at MIDs.
Mike Rayfield, general manager of Nvidia's mobile
business, said MIDs have screens of four to 12 inches in
diameter and may have a touch-screen or keyboard, a
connection for a game controller or a wireless
high-speed Internet connection.
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 PC
and others top 50 million by 2011.
Tegra chips have as their main electronic brain an ARM
11 central processing unit core, a graphics processing
unit, a media processor, system memory and peripherals
in one ultra-low power-consuming chip smaller than a
Taiwanese gadget makers are expected to showcase devices
based on the Tegra chips at Computex trade show this
Prices for MIDs with Tegra would range from $200 to $250
and be on store shelves by the holiday shopping season.
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 tiny-but-powerful
The Atom chip family uses its x86 architecture, while
ARM Holdings Plc processors have their own. Intel claims
ARM chips grew up out of the communications and
cell-phone markets, insisting its x86 architecture is
better suited for computing applications such as gaming
and Web browsing.