Nvidia teases $199 Tegra 3 tablets

Android tablets featuring Nvidia’s Tegra 3 processors may slip under $200 this summer. The Verge says that, at Nvidia’s Annual Meeting of Stockholders briefing last week, the company teased a platform code-named "Kai" that will purportedly enable such devices.

"Our strategy on Android is simply to enable quad-core tablets running Android Ice Cream Sandwich to be developed and brought out to market at the $199 price point," said Nvidia VP Rob Csonger during the briefing. The platform, Kai, is supposed to use "a lot of the secret sauce" from Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip to help cut component costs and reduce display power consumption. Csonger apparently didn’t go into more detail, so you’ll have to use your imagination to fill in the rest.

In any case, the prospect of relatively powerful $199 tablets running Ice Cream Sandwich does sound nice. Amazon already offers an Android tablet for $199, the Kindle Fire, but that device has a dual-core processor and a customized version of Android 2.3 that lacks all the spit and polish of ICS.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Rectangular tablets slowly becoming mainstream. How will they innovate further? Triangular tablets?

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Er… how do you pronounce Csonger? C-Songer? Tsonger? Er…

    • Anarchist
    • 7 years ago

    … the tablet market have effectively crashed.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    Tegra 3 already isn’t powerful enough. Forgive me if I’m not impressed by a device that uses “a lot of the secret sauce” from a chip that isn’t fast enough. Especially on memory bandwidth.

    Kai’d need all of the secret sauce plus some new herbs and spices to really zest things up.

      • BabelHuber
      • 7 years ago

      For what is Tegra 3 not powerful enough?

      I personally was impressed when I first saw Shadowgun running on my TF Prime, it was better than I had expected. Also, Dark Meadows really looks good. Sonic 4 Episode 2 is also very well done.

      Gamepad support is perfect, too, at least with the XBox 360-controler I use.

      Also, I never noticed the single channel memory controller.

      Of course as a geek I would prefer even more powerful hardware, but Tegra 3 is good enough for today’s usage scenarios in tablets.

      Not a single person playing around with my tablet said it feels slow, even die-hard Apple fans liked its performance.

      • gmskking
      • 7 years ago

      It might not be that powerful. But a Tegra 3 for $200 sounds good to me. If they do actually come out at that price.

    • cheapFreeAgent
    • 7 years ago

    No impolite intended, but anyone knows how to pronounce the “Cs” in Csonger ?

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      You beat me to it. I posted this question before I saw your post though…

    • smilingcrow
    • 7 years ago

    I am perplexed by how quickly tablets and even smart-phones have embraced quad core CPUs. On the desktop quad core is typically the domain of content creation and/or heavy multi-tasking but these smaller platforms are more generally aimed at content consumption not creation. So why quad core?

    1. Marketing.
    2. Clock speeds don’t scale well whilst maintaining decent power efficiency. i.e. no faster dual cores.

    Do ARM have a decent implementation of Turbo Boost? If they do I see no harm in quad core otherwise it seems inappropriate.

      • CasbahBoy
      • 7 years ago

      My guess is that (from a certain point) the higher the clockspeed, the more power that is consumed to compute an instruction. Quad core CPUs allow more work to be done without ramping up to higher clocks to keep up…and If the transition from single to dual to quad core smartphone and tablet CPUs have occurred with along with process shrinks then there is a double benefit.

        • smilingcrow
        • 7 years ago

        Do current and next generation (A15!) ARM chips use Turbo Boost?
        ARM have been talking big about wanting to take on Intel in the low end laptop space but to do that surely they need decent single and dual core CPU performance more than quad core. I appreciate that this is a different platform but surely they need to address this issues across all platforms sooner rather than later.

          • Beelzebubba9
          • 7 years ago

          ARM still has a looooooong way to go before their chips can run a normal desktop OS and provide a comparable experience to commodity x86 parts. Remember that only now have mobile CPUs caught up to the performance of Intel’s slow and aged Atom CPU, so the A15 will have a tough fight against Haswell, let alone CULV variants of IVB.

            • Airmantharp
            • 7 years ago

            They’re biggest drawback has been the lack of out-of-order execution- which the A15 corrects. IPC may not be there yet, but for the mobile space, A15 outclasses Atom in every other way.

            • kalelovil
            • 7 years ago

            A9 already features out-of-order execution.
            I wouldn’t be surprised to see A15 core IPC surpass Atom and pose a challenge for Bobcat.
            On the other hand Atom and Bobcat will be receiving significant core revamps in 2013.

          • willmore
          • 7 years ago

          Any modern SoC supports lowering the clock from its max. Tegra3 supports higher clock speeds when only one core is in use/two cores/etc. So, that’s pretty much Turbo Boost. I’m sure there are fun technical details that make it different, but if you’re asking if the chips can adapt their clock speeds to the workload, then the answer is a clear ‘yes’.

      • Goty
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]no faster dual cores.[/quote<] See: Snapdragon S4

        • smilingcrow
        • 7 years ago

        Thanks. I don’t keep up with ARM etc so much as you can tell.
        I thought Samsung had a quad core so it that not ARM?

          • Beelzebubba9
          • 7 years ago

          Samsung’s most recent SOC (and what’s used in the Galaxy S III) is a quad core CPU based on the ARM Cortex A9.

          Quad Core CPUs aren’t ideal, but the ARM Cortex A9 everyone uses doesn’t really scale much past 1.3Ghz at ~40nm, so if you want more speed you have to add more cores (or use a smaller 32/28nm process). nVidia’s Tegra 3 uses a low power helper core and does dynamically power down cores and do a turbo-boost like function like a little Sandy Bridge CPU.

          Chips based on Qualcomm’s Krait core or ARM’s Cortex A15 will be much faster per core and scale higher. The first Krait based phones are just shipping now (HTC One X) and expect devices based on the A15 in Q3 of this year.

            • smilingcrow
            • 7 years ago

            Thanks. So at the moment it’s mainly Samsung and nVidia (I’m ignoring the helper) using quad core? And A15 based designs are also mainly going to be dual core?
            If so that’s good to hear as I thought multi-core madness was taking over.

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 7 years ago

            There might be some quad core TI madness floating around somewhere, but the Tegra 3 is the only widely advertised quad core ARM SoC I know of. Personally, I don’t have any issues with quad core designs as long as they’re competitive where it matters (device cost, power consumption) since none of them come close to the madness that is the A5X anyway.

    • csroc
    • 7 years ago

    I was excited about this when Asus and Nvidia were showing off the Eee memo tablet that included the pen, 7″ highish res screen and the quad tegra. That was ages ago in internet time and I’ve given up caring.

      • pogsnet
      • 7 years ago
    • Ringofett
    • 7 years ago

    Google’s been rumored to have a tablet ready to launch this summer, latest rumor I heard being that it was getting Jelly Bean or whatever. Actually hope that isn’t true, as it really starts to put fragmentation in to perspective, pushing out a new version of the OS when ICS hasn’t even been fully adopted.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      No version of Android was ever “fully adopted” when the next one launched. There were still FroYo phones coming out (T-Mobile G2x, and Motorola Triumph for example) in the spring/summer of 2011, which is mind boggling considering that Gingerbread had been out for a full 8 months. It finally got 2.3.3 in July. Upgraded platform adoption is pathetic.

    • Goty
    • 7 years ago

    I’d rather pay current tablet prices for something with a Snapdragon S4 or the new Exynos (when it’s finally available). Better battery life + better performance FTW.

      • brucethemoose
      • 7 years ago

      More importantly, better single threaded performance. Most desktop apps aren’t properly threaded, so what good does 4 or 5 cores do anyway?

      I’m buying the first dual core A15 phone or tablet I see.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Most desktop apps aren't properly threaded...[/quote<] This isn't a desktop... [quote<]so what good does 4 or 5 cores do anyway?[/quote<] That would depend on exactly what they're for. Most phones and tablets will soon be quad-core as a standard so they can use multiple types of cores, much as SoCs already have so many specialized parts.

          • Alexko
          • 7 years ago

          Phone/tablet applications are probably even less multi-threaded than desktop ones, and I think that was brucethemoose’s (implied) point.

          At some point, they might be well threaded, but for the foreseeable future I’d take a dual-core Krait SoC over a Tegra 3 any day.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            The emphasis should be on the particular function that the particular cores provide, not the total number of cores and how theoretically multi-threaded some usage scenario may or may not be.

            Most “quad-cores” (Tegra 3 isn’t even really one) will still effectively function as single or dual-cores, but they can save a lot of battery in doing so.

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 7 years ago

            How is the Tegra 3 not a quad core? Because it’s a penta-core? 🙂

        • cynan
        • 7 years ago

        Yes, but good like finding a $199 A15 based anything for another couple of years. After all, the Tegra 4 will be based on A15 and products based on that are not due out until 2013.

        What these Tegra 3 tablets might do, if not too compromised, is pose a compelling alternative to the Kindle Fire (as implied in the article) and the no-name Asian brands that are currently selling for $100-$200.

          • Alexko
          • 7 years ago

          Texas Instruments’s OMAP 5, which features two A15 cores, is supposed to be available this year. I don’t know about making it into $199 tablets in 2012, but perhaps in 2013.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 7 years ago

    About damn time.

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