Nvidia’s Huang talks next-gen Tegra design wins

Remember that story about Asus planning to release a tablet based on Nvidia’s Kal-El processor (a.k.a. Tegra 3)? Turns out Asus might have company—quite a lot of it, judging by a recent statement from Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang.

Reuters quotes Huang as saying, on the subject of Kal-El design wins, "It’s got to be at least 10. We have five major phone companies and we have five major PC (manufacturers)." The article elaborates by noting that Kal-El has already been selected for devices that include "phones, tablets and low-powered laptops."

Five manufacturers is one thing, but five major manufacturers in each market means Kal-El slates and handsets might be all but ubiquitous. That’d be quite a leap for Nvidia, considering how long it took for the company’s Tegra 2 chip to show up in actual products. Nvidia said in February that the first Kal-El devices will enter production in August, so we may well see them in stores this fall.

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    • Suspenders
    • 8 years ago

    I wonder about the usefulness of quad core designs like KalEl for low power devices. Given how poorly so many programs take advantage of multiple threads, it seems to me like a better idea to stick with a 2 core design and focus die area on graphics improvements and power savings.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    If they manage to ship this one on time. They have a very spotty track record. If it’s as powerful as they claim, I imagine we’ll see it in Boxee Box-like streamers, too.

    Here’s hoping. They better be ready because Apple’s going to show up next year with iPad 3 with retina and it’s going to crush all comers (again) if they don’t already have superior hardware out in advance to steal SOME of Apple’s thunder.

    • SoulSlave
    • 8 years ago

    Nice, but judging by some benchmarks I’ve seen around (mainly Anand’s), tegra’s gpus are not as fast as PowerVR ones. If games effectively begin to play a central role on the decision process, they might need to offer something better…

      • HighTech4US2
      • 8 years ago

      Kal-El’s GPU is greatly improved over the Tegra 2. 5X speed up is stated.

      Also Kal-El adds the Advanced SIMD extension NEON instruction set.

        • djgandy
        • 8 years ago

        5x speed up for the entire SOC. This is the Nvidia marketing machine. Have you not figured it out yet?!

        It has twice as many CPU cores for a start. They came to 5x by saying it has a 2x faster GPU and a 3x faster CPU.

        3x faster CPU is due to have 2x as many CPU cores. So it has 1.5x faster CPU cores and 2x faster GPU (which probably is due to having twice as many cores)

        Any monkey can slap more cores on a chip. The question is can they make their chips energy efficient and also ensure they do not disperse too much heat.

    • tviceman
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve been saying this since Nvidia spilled the beans on Kal-El. Tegra 1 was comparable to NV1 – it sucked and was mostly nonexistant. Tegra 2 is comparable to Riva 128 (NV3) – it was a decent product that rebounded nicely from NV1 and had OK sales. Kal – El is going to be comparable to the Riva TNT and TNT 2. It’s going to be a very, very competitive product. It might not be the best at everything, but it will be among the best at everything.

    If Nvidia can keep up their aggressive timetable with Tegra, when project Denver (Tegra 5) hits, they will have hands down the best arm processor and on-die graphics in the industry. It’s a big if, but it’s certainly possible.

      • Rakhmaninov3
      • 8 years ago

      You mean comparable performance-wise?

        • tviceman
        • 8 years ago

        Comparable in both performance and sales success.

    • Game_boy
    • 8 years ago

    Design wins means that they have considered using your chip AS WELL as the competition. You how AMD always announces hundreds of laptop design wins for its mobile platforms, and they never appear? It’s because OEMs built Intel and AMD prototypes and in the final stages they chose Intel for various reasons. They have to multi-source in case of problems affecting production, since they plan so far in advance.

    Ten is a very small number of design wins. Concievably that might turn into zero actual models, esepcailly as there is little to differentiate Nvidia from other ARM chips with strong graphics.

      • HighTech4US2
      • 8 years ago

      There is no current competition to Kal-El. It is a quad core design and the competition won’t have quad core available until mid 2012 at the earliest. nVidia has locked up all of these design wins.

      And oh one of the major wins is Amazon.

        • Game_boy
        • 8 years ago

        Neither will Nvidia. I don’t believe any of their claims about when production starts and when we’ll see products on shelves given their record on Tegra 1, Tegra 2 and Fermi.

        Kal-El will show up, I think, at a similar time to the others’ quad-cores.

          • kilkennycat
          • 8 years ago

          ummm…. nVidia demonstrated a working pre-production Kal-El at GDC 2011. See:-

          [url<]http://www.gottabemobile.com/2011/03/10/nvidia-project-kal-el-mobile-processor-demo-video/[/url<]

        • Rza79
        • 8 years ago

        Don’t be so ignorant dude.
        nVidia isn’t some magical company with magical design powers that can beat other companies to market with one year advantage.
        If anything, they have less ‘design power’ but they have huge marketing power.
        They started filling peoples heads with Tegra 2 marketing ONE year before actual products were launched (and they’re doing the same with Kal-El). In the end, they were only a couple months earlier with a synchronous dual-core while other companies took the time to do it the right way (asynchronous).
        Just to let you know, other companies will have and some already have quad core designs ready. Marvell & NEC will have quad cores ready. Actually NEC’s first quad-core ARM design was launched in 2005.
        Personally, i don’t see use of quad core processors in the mobile space. It took quite some time before quad core processors found some use in common desktop applications. I would prefer a higher clocked dual core over a lower clocked quad core since even an A9 is still dog slow compared to desktop processors.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Ten is a very small number of design wins.[/quote<] Is it..? Let's see how others are doing... [url<]http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4216089/Intel-rewrites-Atom-road-map[/url<] "Otellini said Intel now has 2,000 design wins for Atom, 21 percent of them conversions from other architectures, mainly ARM." Oh, ok. I see. So, 10 vs. 2000. (BTW, before you claim Otellini was lying, you should know that this was in an analyst meeting.)

        • cygnus1
        • 8 years ago

        You guys are comparing the wrong thing. A design win, is a model. nVidia could have 1000 design wins from any ONE of the TEN PLUS manufacturers. We have no idea how many design wins they have, only how many manufacturers are designing products with the chip.

          • Game_boy
          • 8 years ago

          He said “it’s got to be at least ten design wins”. Huang would never pass up the opportunity to say “fifty” or “two thousand” if he could, so the actual number must be near ten, and as I said that could mean actual products using it near zero.

            • cygnus1
            • 8 years ago

            Actually he wasn’t quoted as saying that.

            [quote<]Huang said Nvidia's next-generation mobile processor, code named Kal-El, has already won spots in several devices planned by major PC and phone manufacturers, including phones, tablets and low-powered laptops. "It's got to be at least 10. We have five major phone companies and we have five major PC (manufacturers)," he said. [/quote<] Reuters and you interpreted it that way, but he did NOT say design wins. He said we have at least 10, period. And then described 2 sets of manufacturers, 5 each. He simply inferred that since there are 10 manufacturer customers for Kal-El that there are at least 10 design wins.

    • bdwilcox
    • 8 years ago

    “phones, tablets and low-powered laptops.”

    That’s a pretty impressive spread of devices for one chip design.

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      I disagree; increasingly, a phone is just a small tablet, and a low-powered laptop is just a tablet with a keyboard.

        • Arag0n
        • 8 years ago

        However, the “low-powered laptops” should be pointing to Windows8 ARM based laptops while Tablets and Smartphones should be pointing to Android.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 8 years ago

          I doubt Nvidia cares much what OS you use.

            • Arag0n
            • 8 years ago

            Me neither, but I wanted to point that all the devices aren’t the same.
            It’s not just
            Smartphones->Smartphones With Bigger Screen->Smartphones with Bigger Screen + Keyboard

            • dpaus
            • 8 years ago

            Respectfully, I continue to disagree. The differentiation points between the products are increasingly ‘marketing’ in nature, not technical or functional.

      • Third_Eye
      • 8 years ago

      From what I have seen Tegra 2 seemed to be on a roll in early 2011 with CES and Google using Nvidia TG2 as the processor for developing Honeycomb.

      Initally design wins seems to be flowing from all corners. Motorola with Atrix and Xoom, LG with Optimus 2X, Acer with Iconia Tablet, Asus with EePad etc etc…… NVIDIA seemed to work initial charm and magic. Even Samsung is supposed to have ordered a huge number of Tegra 2 processors for its tablets.

      Fast forward 3 months.
      A5 SOC
      Apple IPAD2 preliminary tests show the PowerVR SGX543 MP2 beating TG2 based GeForce ULP(GULP) handily.
      Its MPU component is faster than Tegra2.

      TI OMAP 4 series
      CPU better tha TG2. GPU derived from the same SGX543 far better than GULP. Initially all SOCs went exclusively to Blackberry for Playbook.
      This seems to be the SOC of choice for LG Optimus 3D(ATT Thrill) as well as the for future Motorola flagship Droid3 series.

      Exynos series.
      Currently the SOC for the Samsung Galaxy SII as well as the new Tab series, performance has been wonderful and better than Tegra 2.

      Qualcomm Dual-core
      HTC dual core phones as well as tablets. Chosen by HP exclusively for WebOS tablets. Uses Adreno graphics (which was initially ATI-Bitboys tech that AMD sold to QComm). Better than Tegra 2 at all levels.

      So the seeming head-start that NVIDIA had with TG2 in reality has become more toned down now. Worse Tegra 2 seems to be the the dual core SOC in the cheapest of all dual core phones. None of the manufacturer’s flagship phones planned for this year have a Tegra2 inside.

      No wonder NVIDIA is talking about Kal-El.

        • cygnus1
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]Worse Tegra 2 seems to be the the dual core SOC in the cheapest of all dual core phones. [/quote<] don't those usually ship the most units though?

          • Third_Eye
          • 8 years ago

          Right now the reason TG2 shipped in so many units is due to the seeming head start as well as the choice of Google to use TG2 for Honeycomb. To my knowledge Google is still optimizing HC and using Tegra2 as the hardware reference platform. It has not optimized HC across TI/QC/SMSG ARM architectures yet.

          It is either left to the other SOC manufacturers or their OEM partners to do that if they want to try for now. That could explain why other manufacturers are not out with non-TG2 based tablets. Only HTC is coming up with Flyer tablet with Gingerbread rather than Honeycomb and Qualcomm dual snappie.

          My basic messages are these

          a) NVIDIA always over promised and under delivered in the mobile devices space.

          b) Inspite of all PR and announcements, till now the end products that use TG2 bcome available in the market not that far off from the competing ARM architecture based products.

          c) And when a similar SOC comes into the picture OMAP4x, Exynos, DualSnap, A5 all of them outperform NVIDIA’s product quite handily in performance as well as perf/watt.

          d) As HC becomes more mature, TG2s apparent dominance in tablets will also start vanishing.

          So with the lacklusture sales of Xoom, relative quiteness in LG Slate, supply chain issues with EePad Transformer the window NVDA had is disappearing slowly and the lone advantage it clings to is Google’s choice of the TG2 platform.

          That is the reason, they are talking about Kal-El and the future as their present seems to be F****ed up more than they expected 🙂

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