If an American Technology Research analyst is to be believed, the next version of Apple's iPod will feature an NVIDIA graphics chip. NVIDIA has snatched the design contract from Broadcom, the analyst says, Apple's supplier of video processing chips for the current iPod. The analyst believes NVIDIA will equip the next iPod with 3D graphics functionality on top of existing capabilities like H.264 acceleration. These claims are light on evidence—the analyst's statement is simply prefaced with "based on our analysis"—but American Technology Research nevertheless bumped up NVIDIA's share rating from "hold" to "buy." Along with the purported iPod design win, the expected Q3 release of both NVIDIA's G80 graphics chip and Sony's NVIDIA-powered PlayStation 3 were factors in the upgrade.
Despite the lack of evidence, an NVIDIA-powered iPod isn't that far-fetched. As Ars Technica points out, Gamespot suggested in May that a group inside Apple's iTunes division was hiring programmers with a "gaming background" for a "super secret" project. In March, NVIDIA made a couple of handheld-related acquisitions: Indian mobile media and component firm PACE Soft Silicon, and then Finnish embedded graphics technology solutions developer Hybrid Graphics.
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