Tegra Tablets Today, Smartphones Soon

The original Tegra was a 65nm chip made at TSMC, this one is 40nm also made at TSMC. The die shrink gives NVIDIA the ability to cram around 2x the transistor count into the same space.

At 260M transistors, Tegra 2 is a fairly complex chip. The total die size is approximately 49mm^2, which actually sounds big given the target market. The A9s occupy around 10% of the total die area.

The initial Tegra 2 chips will be paired with an 8.8mm BGA package for use in standard tech PCBs. Smartphone versions will be in smaller packages in order to save real estate.

NVIDIA is supplying 5" development boards to its partners interested in Tegra 2. NVIDIA tells us that there are "hundreds" of these systems out in the wild. As you can guess by the size of the development board, the initial target for this chip isn't quite a smartphone.

The focus of today's announcement is unfortunately tablets. They are going to be able to make it to market quicker and are farther along the design process. While we don't expect any vendor to have completely nailed the perfect tablet yet, we should see some interesting UIs and form factors.

Multiple sources have now told me that the reason we never saw Tegra 1 in any smartphones or mainstream devices until the Zune HD was a simple case of NVIDIA arrogance. NVIDIA assumed that selling Tegra to phone manufacturers was just like selling GPUs to PC vendors, and it most definitely wasn't. It's been a long learning process, but NVIDIA appears to be better as a result.

There are Tegra 1 smartphones in flight right now. Presumably we'll see the first at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month. There are also Tegra 2 smartphones that are currently being designed. We will see these before the end of 2010.

Index ARM Cortex A9: What I'm Excited About
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  • strikeback03 - Friday, January 08, 2010 - link

    That would be a gigantic phone. I'd personally like to see something with this kind of processing power (minus the video acceleration) and small enough to use something like a 2.5-3" screen Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    on a smart phone, or a mp3 player . . . hmm am I missing something here ? Is this absolutely necessary ? Personally, I don't think so.

    Also comparing ARM with an Atom processor is like comparing apples to oranges isn't it ? One is x86, the other is not.

    Personally, I would be more interested in seeing how viable nVidias Tegra 2 would be used in other SoC embedded applications, or if nVidia will make derivatives that are more suitable for other than smartphone / mp3 player applications. Based just on the ARM technology, I would have to say these are going to be well suited for any low power application provided they perform well.
    Reply
  • FaaR - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    1080P decode support on a thing like this is... Well, virtually useless, really.

    When it's been shown that most people can't see the difference between blu-ray video and regular 'ol DVDs even on big-screen TVs, and the vast majority of people just don't see the point of HD video, then what the hell are we going to use this thing for? Watch BR rips on a 3" LCD screen, no I don't think so.

    Plug it in to your big screen TV in the living room? Please. Don't you have a stationary player for that?

    I've no idea who exactly this product is intended for.

    And the dual A9 cores, well, I'm sure they're great - compared to whatever came before them anyway, but dual A9 cores, quad A9 cores or a quadrillion A9 cores doesn't really matter as long as they don't run any really useful software and THEY DON'T. As long as a portable isn't x86 compatible it'll never be more than a toy. Yeah sure, you can "do stuff" with an Iphone or whatever, but it's still just toy apps and it will stay that way until x86 becomes a realistic alternative in the mobile marketspace. Atom is a joke right now, it's slow AND power hungry. Maybe in another 5 years, who knows...
    Reply
  • Visual - Friday, January 08, 2010 - link

    it is nice if the device can decode the video in real time, even if it doesn't show it in its full resolution. then you don't need to re-encode stuff specially for the device, if size isn't a constraint - like if you are watching it from a network share.

    but the main advantage of tegra 2 isn't just some stupid video decode. its all-round general purpose cpu performance, and 3d acceleration, at very low power usage. the modular design allows it to use as little power as the current usage pattern of the device requires so it will make fantastic handheld game console/phone/media player hybrids

    and you whining that there aren't useful apps is just stupid. x86 isn't the world, you know - properly developed apps can be ported to anything, and once the platform is in people's hands, the apps will be too.
    Reply
  • FlyTexas - Friday, January 08, 2010 - link

    Huh?

    What are you smoking???

    If you can't tell the very obvious difference between Blu-Ray and DVD video on a large 1080P LCD, then you're blind...

    None of that makes your other point invalid, 1080P isn't needed for a 4" screen, but it is nice that it can do it.
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    Looking at that reference board it doesn't appear that it would be all that difficult to make a mini-ITX Atom alternative. You'd have to run Linux on it, but for an HTPC, NAS, or other low power single-purpose application spending $100+ on a fully featured Windows license is a little bit silly anyway.

    If it is faster than Atom (and better at HTPC-centric video tasks) and can be had for much less than an i3 system (especially if i3 can't be passively cooled) I'd think NVIDIA would be jumping at the chance to show Intel up a bit. Even if the actual marketshare and economic gains were minimal, it seems to me that the "mindshare" gains could be huge.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    Personally, I do not see it happening. There is a reason why companies like SGI moved from RISC to x86 hardware. However, with that said ther is simply no reason why these SoCs could not be used in an external NAS / SAN system with the right software to back it up. x86 has the advantage of running desktop classed Windows, even if only for gaming, which is a larger market than most think.

    Still, as a novice embedded designer, I see lots of potential in Tegra 2, but a lot of it would be unnecessary for my, and possibly others purposes. Smart phone, and MP3 players, sure, but not for a lot of other things. Perhaps if the graphics core were CUDA compliant and offered good number crunching performance . . .
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    Personally, I do not see it happening. There is a reason why companies like SGI moved from RISC to x86 hardware. However, with that said ther is simply no reason why these SoCs could not be used in an external NAS / SAN system with the right software to back it up. x86 has the advantage of running desktop classed Windows, even if only for gaming, which is a larger market than most think.

    Still, as a novice embedded designer, I see lots of potential in Tegra 2, but a lot of it would be unnecessary for my, and possibly others purposes. Smart phone, and MP3 players, sure, but not for a lot of other things. Perhaps if the graphics core were CUDA compliant and offered good number crunching performance . . .
    Reply
  • altarity - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    LOL... I seriously didn't know this when I posted earlier:

    http://blog.boxee.tv/2010/01/07/boxee-box-internal...">http://blog.boxee.tv/2010/01/07/boxee-box-internal...
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    Now if only it wasn't shaped so weird...

    Is that really the final look?
    Reply

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