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


View All Comments

  • Genx87 - Friday, January 08, 2010 - link

    The fusion of the phone and entertainment is heading towards gaming on our phones. At the end of the day it is very possible we ditch laptops and home computers for a phone that does it all. Reply
  • Taft12 - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    You sure did beat the crap out of that strawman!

    I'll take a Tegra for playing a decent looking 3D game on a smartphone thank you very much!
  • sprockkets - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    They already exist and are better than what nVidia offers, thank YOU very much!!! Reply
  • tomaccogoats - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    Though this article has me wondering if Nvidia has enough ppl to spread around, I honestly don't know. If they have to same manpower as ati (once again i have absolutely no clue) then wouldn't ati start gaining the upper hand in terms of desktop graphic solutions? Reply
  • Spoelie - Friday, January 08, 2010 - link

    NVIDIA is a much larger company than ATi was before AMD's acquisition, something to the tune of over double the engineers (in 2006...)

    You can't really compare the 2 at this moment anymore though
  • Taft12 - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    Enough people to spread around? WTF are you talking about? Companies have multiple core competencies and engineers don't get moved from desktop graphics projects to Tegra.

    When they purchased PortalPlayer in 2007 for $350M, what they were buying was not just IP, but SoC expertise of the employees that surely was/is a huge part of this product.
  • janiszalitis - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    Where have you been?
    ATI is totally blasting Nvidia out of desktop graphics market!
    If NVidia wants to retain reasonable share there, they have to release something good sometime soon.
  • tomaccogoats - Friday, January 08, 2010 - link

    I just meant that given the same amount of manpower at each company, nvidia seems to spreading their business to more markets than ati, which seems to be focusing more on desktop solutions Reply
  • Boushh - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    Desktop graphics are not that important any more. Already more than 50% of the market is based on laptops. And this will only grow.

    What Nvidia is doing is finding other markets it can make products for. Because building a company on a single product line is a problem if that market disappears.

    Nvidia is hoping that products like the Tegra and Tesla will eventualy take over the profit they previously got from desktop graphics.

    And that's not to late. Already CPU's are here (Westmere) that have on die GPU's. That will be intergrated GPU's in a year or so. That means that Intel can (and AMD when they get there) provide more than 90% of the needs for graphics on PCs or laptops. That leaves only a nice market for powerfull graphics.

    So there will be a market for GPUs in the future. But the real money will be in the netbook, tablet and smartphone market.
  • tomaccogoats - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    If it means longer battery life than i'm a happy camper :) Reply

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