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
NVIDIA TI Qualcomm
Handset Partners LG
Samsung (?)
Nokia (?)
Sony Ericsson

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.

The GeForce ULV Performance: Android and Multithreading


View All Comments

  • andrewsolid - Monday, February 7, 2011 - link

    "Tegra 2 uses a uses a" 6th para from the base Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, February 7, 2011 - link


    Take care,
  • NCM - Monday, February 7, 2011 - link

    Call for effective editing...

    Adobe "flash" or just plain "flash" used in multiple instances should be "Flash."
  • MonkeyPaw - Monday, February 7, 2011 - link

    "Android itself already is multithreaded naively, in fact, that’s part of delivering speedy UI. "

    Naive Mutlithreading? Sounds a little scary to me! :D
  • chinkgai - Monday, February 7, 2011 - link

    hey guys,

    i noticed the first chart at the top of your first page has 1ghz for the cpu speed all the way down when the paragraph right below it states that it the 3d receives a 200mhz bump.

    nice article btw.
  • chinkgai - Monday, February 7, 2011 - link

    i meant fourth page Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, February 7, 2011 - link

    Thanks, fixed :)

    Take care,
  • ssj4Gogeta - Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - link


    Font changing is also available on my Galaxy S i9000. Samsung ships the phone with 3 extra fonts and you can download more from the Market by searching for "FlipFont".
  • mongo lloyd - Monday, February 7, 2011 - link

    The review, as far as I could tell, didn't mention which audio chip was in the phone, or have any audio fidelity benchmarks for that matter.

    A top-of-the-line Wolfson chip, like the Galaxy S I hope?
  • Brian Klug - Monday, February 7, 2011 - link

    It's got a Wolfson WM8994 - audio sounds great. I'll definitely consider audio benchmarks as well going forward.


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