LG Optimus 2X & NVIDIA Tegra 2 Review: The First Dual-Core Smartphoneby Brian Klug & Anand Lal Shimpi on February 7, 2011 3:53 AM EST
The Partners and the Landscape
Although NVIDIA announced the Tegra 2 at CES 2010, it wasn’t until CES 2011 that we saw a single smartphone design win. Luckily for NVIDIA, we got two wins at this year’s CES: LG and Motorola.
Here’s how the landscape breaks down. In 2011 TI will have its OMAP4, used in the BlackBerry Playbook tablet and Qualcomm has its Snapdragon QSD8660. The QSD8660 will be used in upcoming HP/Palm and HTC devices later this year.
|2011 SoC Landscape|
This leaves us with Dell, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. Dell, Huawei and Sony Ericsson are all in Qualcomm’s camp. I’d expect that to continue. Nokia has shipped TI SoCs in the past, and I’d expect that to continue as well (if not TI, then Intel). That leaves us with Samsung. Samsung has typically shipped its own SoCs, however the recently announced Orion is still far from ready. With a hole in its roadmap, Samsung is rumored to be in NVIDIA’s camp for its next generation of Galaxy devices. And I don’t like posting rumors on AT.
All of the aforementioned SoC vendors have key design wins. NVIDIA went from being a no-show to a key player in the smartphone and tablet space. Did I mention that NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 is the reference SoC for Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)?
NVIDIA’s roadmap ahead is equally impressive. NVIDIA secrets are leaking left and right, perhaps on purpose. At MWC 2011 NVIDIA is expected to announce the successor to the Tegra 2: the NVIDIA Tegra 2 3D. And late this year or at CES 2012, NVIDIA is expected to announce Tegra 3. Two new Tegra SoCs within a 12 month period? PC gaming veterans should recognize a very familiar pattern. NVIDIA looks to be bringing back the 6-month product cycle.
Frustratingly good execution is what helped establish NVIDIA in the PC GPU industry, and ultimately what drove competitors like 3dfx and Matrox out. Based on the leaked roadmaps, it looks like NVIDIA is trying to do the same thing with smartphone SoCs.
Tegra 2, Tegra 2 3D and Tegra 3 are all 40nm parts, and only Tegra 3 is a new architecture (GPU, not CPU). This is a deviation from NVIDIA’s old 6-month cadence, but we’ll see what Tegra 3 Ultra/Tegra 4 bring in 2012. If the follow up to Tegra 3 is a 28nm shrink, followed by a new architecture with Tegra 4 by the end of 2012/beginning of 2013 then NVIDIA may truly be up to its old tricks. But for now it’s too early to tell as Tegra 2 3D looks to just be a clock bump of Tegra 2.
Based on what’s been made public thus far, the Tegra 2 3D will add glasses-free 3D support (LG has already announced that it’ll be showing off the world’s first 3D smartphone at MWC 2011). Tegra 3D will also bump clock speeds from 1GHz to 1.2GHz. This boost is important as it’ll match Qualcomm’s QSD8660, which will ship at up to 1.2GHz
Little is known about Tegra 3. Based on the timing I’m guessing it’ll still be Cortex A9, however with some performance tweaks (and a faster/beefier GPU). NVIDIA has the design wins and it has the roadmap going forward.