Nvidia shows new Tegra chip, cloud gaming, handheld console

During Nvidia’s pre-CES press conference last night, company CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took to the stage and unveiled a trifecta of new products. The most notable of the three was no doubt the new Tegra 4 system-on-a-chip, which Nvidia dubs the “world’s fastest mobile processor.”

The Tegra 4 features four primary processor cores based on ARM’s Cortex-A15 architecture, an auxiliary power-saving core, and 72 graphics “cores.” (When talking about graphics, Nvidia generally uses “cores” to refer to graphics ALUs, or stream processors.) Nvidia says the Tegra 4 has six times the graphics horsepower of its predecessor, which is no surprise, since the Tegra 3 has only a dozen graphics ALUs. During an on-stage demo, Nvidia also showed a Tegra 4-powered tablet loading 25 web pages in almost half the time it took Google’s new Nexus 10 tablet—27 seconds instead of 50 seconds. The Nexus 10 has a dual-core, Cortex-A15-based processor inside, so that was no small feat.

The Tegra 4 speeds up the processing of HDR photos, as well, enabling what Nvidia calls “one-shot HDR.” The company says the iPhone 5 spends about two seconds processing each frame of an HDR composite, while a Tegra 4-equipped device can cut that processing time to just 0.2 seconds per frame.

Oh, and remember that wireless chip design firm Nvidia acquired in 2011? The purchase is definitely bearing fruit, because Nvidia intends to offer the Tegra 4 with an optional 4G LTE chipset, the Nvidia Icera i500. That chipset purportedly has a 40% smaller die size than a conventional “state-of-the-art” LTE modem, yet it includes eight programmable modem processors and can handle the entire modem stack, including both 3G and 4G connectivity. Nvidia expects the Icera i500 to start sampling this month.

Huang showing the Project Shield handheld.

Next up was Project Shield, a handheld gaming console that runs a vanilla version of Android on top of the new Tegra 4 chip. The device has a five-inch 1280×720 multi-touch display, a “console-grade” controller, and a 38Wh battery capacity good for 5-10 hours of gaming or 24 hours of video playback. Connectivity includes USB, HDMI, and microSD. The device can drive 4K displays, and Nvidia claims the audio system is better than Beats audio on an HP laptop.

Part of the appeal of Project Shield is that, in addition to running Android titles, the device can stream Steam games from a user’s gaming PC. Nvidia demonstrated NFS Most Wanted and Assassin’s Creed III being streamed over Wi-Fi, with latency purportedly so low it feels “as if you’re connected to the PC.” The host PC was running a GeForce GTX 680. Multiplayer gaming using two Shield handhelds is also possible, of course, and Nvidia has made provisions to allow for multiple Shield users per household. Too bad there’s no word yet on pricing or availability.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang standing next to a Grid server rack.

Huang also unveiled Nvidia’s Grid cloud gaming platform, which is just what it sounds like: server racks full of Nvidia GPUs. Specifically, Nvidia says each Grid rack contains 20 servers and 240 graphics processors churning out a total of 200 teraflops—the performance of about 700 Xbox 360s. Nvidia’s VGA Hypervisor tech allows multiple users to share a single GPU, too. The company says each Grid “computing node” can serve up to 24 concurrent users.

Thanks to Grid, folks should be able to play full-fledged PC games in the cloud using devices like smart TVs and tablets. In its demo, the company showed how one can begin playing Trine 2 on an LG Smart TV hooked up via Ethernet, and then pick up from the last saved game on an Eee Pad Transformer Prime. Impressive stuff. Nvidia’s partners for Grid include Agawi, Cloud Union, Cyber Cloud, G-Cluster, Playcast, and Ubitus.

Comments closed
    • gmskking
    • 7 years ago

    My opinion on this is that it will not last more than a year.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Project Shield: Nvidia’s way of giving Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony the middle finger for not using Nvidia GPUs in their next-gen consoles.

    • alienstorexxx
    • 7 years ago

    i just like that they want to revive pc games (i mean console ports, it’s difficult to accept it yet) with this device. lastly i’ve only seen very bad console ports on pc’s and only annoying people who call themselves developers that can’t make the game run correctly on game release date. just arguing that piracy destroys gaming industry, indirectly making honest people buy half a game because of a few pirated games, maybe more, maybe less, but in the end, every download isn’t a lost consumer (also steal a copyright isn’t the same as stealing material objects). most of people that downloads pirate games, hasn’t the opportunity to buy a game, no matter what is the reason, most of you live in countries that buy a game isn’t that much money, and payment methods and distributions are easier for consumers. there are some places that reality is way different than most of you know. and if you compare it to other entertainment methods, gaming is by far the most expensive. you need the latest graphics card, the more ram possible, the cpu, the widescreen, and all shit combined to play a game that costs 60 usd or whatever, just play a few hours and that’s all you get, no talking about “special editions” with “2 characters for multiplayer” that costs even more. if i buy a music, no matter if it is 4 minutes lenght, i’m maybe going to hear it a thousand times in the next couple of years. i think gaming industry keeps forgetting what a game has to be, they are forgetting the whole experience in pro of more and more profit. it’s a shame the money that they spent on marketing and advertising. thay keep investing on lots of crap instead of making art, that is what it has to be, has to be the 8th art, as the movies are the 7th. gaming industry as evolved enough and has enough budget to get it.
    you can’t just charge that cost for something that cost you money, it has to worth it. i don’t pay for these people to advertise for other people to buy it. stop fooling people. and you stop getting fooled, speak to the big companies. do as i and don’t be conformist (only if you are). i have no word to do it alone but if we all change, they’ve got nothing in their favor.

    i just got revolutionary but is what i see. support for indie company’s.
    pd: if anyone have seen the conference, is very noticeable frame stutering on ac3, i just could’t stop laughing.

    • Silus
    • 7 years ago

    Tegra 4 is looking great. I really want to see how it performs against other high-end devices. According to what Anandtech wrote in their live blog for the NVIDIA event, the 72 cores of the GPU are not unified, which comes as a surprise. Can anyone from TR confirm this ?

    As for Shield, it’s a neat addition and something quite unexpected in the gaming market. Time will tell if it gains traction.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      And even if it doesn’t end up as the #1 selling device OF ALL TIME(!!!), it can still be a success. There are many different ways to play games. Being good at one of them is sufficient. Not every device needs to be the end all/beat all solution to every problem.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    I’m not gonna turn on my PC just so I could stream games to that handheld game gadget. Also, with most Android games designed for touch screen, that good-looking gamepad is somewhat questionable. Regardless, it looks like a fine little addition to the gadget lover’s gadget collection despite looking like it’s some cheap Chinese knockoff.

    • 0g1
    • 7 years ago

    Wow this A15 cpu has huge power consumption like Anand already showed — the dual core was using about twice as much as a quad A9. This is like the mobile P4. Double the pipeline stages (15 vs 8 of Cortex A9). Imagine the quad core version plus 6x more GPU cores? 38wH of battery and only 5-10 hrs gaming. I get that on my Tegra 2 with 5.6wH.

      • 0g1
      • 7 years ago

      I think Tegra 4 is only suitable for this big form factor or tablets. That’s why Apple modified A15 into swift to get it into the iPhone 5.

        • Silus
        • 7 years ago

        No, since phones with Tegra 4 are also coming. Any chip can be underclocked to be within a certain power rating. Tegra 4 is no different. For devices (such as the Shield) with a bigger battery, the processor is clocked higher. For smaller battery devices, the chip will be underclocked.

        Also “Swift” has nothing to do with A15. It’s a custom ARM core: [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/6292/iphone-5-a6-not-a15-custom-core[/url<]

          • 0g1
          • 7 years ago

          Oh yeah, the iPhone 5 was an ARM v7 mod not a15. But the reason why they made their own CPU design was prob cos a15 sucked — drew too much power.

          Yes, tegra 4 can be used on mobiles. But what’s the point when 1.5 ghz dual core a15 consumes more than 1.7ghz quad core a9. What are u gonna do, down clock to 1ghz? I doubt that would be faster.

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 7 years ago

            I think they’ll have to do a lot of fussing at the SoC/process level to get an A15 into a smartphone formfactor at 28nm, and even then, it might end up like the S4 Pro in my Nexus 4 (it downclocks itself under load because it consumes too much power). When nVidia launches the A15-based Gray chip later this year we’ll find out how they intend to address that issue.

            Or if Samsung releases an SGS4 with an Exynos 5 SoC.

          • gmskking
          • 7 years ago

          Tegra 4=No LTE=Not for phones.

      • swaaye
      • 7 years ago

      I wonder how a P4 would be on 22nm…….

        • Haserath
        • 7 years ago

        Alright, let’s rev this bad boy…

        OH GOD MY PROCESSOR IS ON FIRE!

    • Namarrgon
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Tegra 4-powered tablet loading 25 web pages in almost half the time it took Google's new Nexus 10 tablet[/quote<] Worth noting that the Nexus 10 was running Chrome, while the Shield was using the Android Browser - different engines, and Browser is known to render significantly faster than Chrome, so it's not a particularly good comparison.

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 7 years ago

      It should be faster, regardless of nVidia’s often embarrassing marketing machine.

    • puppetworx
    • 7 years ago

    You may be wondering who buys a GTX 680 to play on a 5″ screen or what need there is for a console controller when playing games designed for touch screens? Well me too buddy, me too. This looks like NVIDIA’s Zune.

    • Wildchild
    • 7 years ago

    Does it come with thermal-protective gloves?

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Sweet, I can totally see this doing better then OnLive.

    Cloud gaming is something for someones LAN, not the rest of the internet. Just sell the software and stop trying to ring people into your money sucking operation. I can see this having infinitely more of an impact if the user was actually allowed to administer and control their own games.

    Hey, look, another area Valve could shake a stick at and magically make the PC game (and gaming in general) scene better. Just imagine what would happen if you had your gaming desktop in the other room with Steam installed on it and your low powered HTPC in the other and you could stream gaming from one to another through Steam with a click of a button? They could do it.

    Guess what? That wireless latency would hardly exist and you don’t need a straight shot fiber run from you to their servers in TX and then to online servers.

    Valve, Nvidia is stepping on your turf bro… better defend it. First their ‘optimization’ software for games, now this.

    • Sam125
    • 7 years ago

    Grid powered cloud gaming played with a Shield which is powered by a Tegra 4.

    Somebody at Nvidia likes vertical integration, although realistically I have to wonder how popular cloud gaming will ever be for anyone but the extremely casual gamer. For anyone else a PC or console would be vastly superior.

    Maybe Nvidia has a secret sauce in the latency reduction that could help them build a new “ecosystem” ala Cuda. Otherwise I’m not seeing the value here.

      • moog
      • 7 years ago

      It’s interesting how hardware companies now do software too.

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      EDIT: nvm, misread the post.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    Cloud gaming is the future, you better believe it folks.

    what? internet latency? people will get tired of paying mothly fees? nonesense they asked for this….we are gonna make one million dollars.

      • My Johnson
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah, with a fiber connection. The potential I see for this is mostly in home use (the wealthy.)

    • Hattig
    • 7 years ago

    A reasonably solid line up from NVIDIA. Tegra 4 looks like it will actually be quite useful – using 45% less power than Tegra 3 whilst having 6x the graphics and 2.6x the CPU power.

    Anand’s hand on with the handheld device was also very positive, despite the rather cranky early-2000s looks.

    [quote<]Nvidia claims the audio system is better than Beats audio on an HP laptop[/quote<] This is not a difficult thing to achieve :-p

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Nvidia claims the audio system is better than Beats audio on an HP laptop[/quote<] In other news, I claim that my new year's diet is better than eating at MacDonalds.

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 7 years ago

    Project Shield seems a bit silly.

      • Hattig
      • 7 years ago

      I wonder if it is a design that NVIDIA will license out (in order to sell Tegra 4s) or just sell themselves (which I think will guarantee product death).

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        As long as it runs vanilla Android (which they claim it does) and as long as the controller is just a HID input device, it’ll run a growing pile of Android games that support external controls. GTA III/Vice City is a good example. There are enough games to make such a thing worthwhile.

        Still, I’d rather look at the tablet-looking Archos device. It won’t be as powerful, and way lower DPI, but it’s an actual tablet with game controls built in, similar to the Wii U pad. Something I think I’d use.

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    Investor’s didn’t like something; their stock is down 4%

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Three things, most likely:

      1.) This market for a games-only (or games-first) device is shrinking. Nintendo rules the roost and even they have not had great success recently.

      2.) Project Shield is not really pocketable. It looks to be a full inch or more thick.

      3.) Cloud gaming still has a huge input delay/lag issue to overcome.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        To address 3, yes, if it’s truely cloud rendered, then, sure. But, this was from a local PC, right? Now that sounds more reasonable to me. Local bandwidth is an order of magnitude higher and the same lower in latency when compared to even a fast internet connection. As long as the audio and video codec doesn’t have a ton of lag, you might be in for something nice.

        I’m with you that cloud gaming just isn’t going to cut it, but if the ‘host’ is local, it’s a different business.

        If there were a cheap, low latency, and robust way to hook my gaming PC in my office across the house to the HDTV in the living room, I would be interested.

      • My Johnson
      • 7 years ago

      Tech has taking a beating for awhile.

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