Nvidia cancels refreshed Shield tablet

Back in 2014, we gave the original Nvidia Shield tablet a TR Recommended award thanks to its impressive performance, solid build quality, and particularly its robust feature list. According to FCC documents, Nvidia was planning to release a new Shield tablet this year, but that same documentation also says that the refreshed model has been canceled "for business reasons."

"For business reasons" is pretty vague, but it's possible that the original Shield tablet simply wasn't a big seller despite its strong value proposition. Tablets simply aren't selling as well as they once were, and the Shield would be in a curious position today as a high-end "gaming tablet." The cancellation also might make sense in light of the persistent rumor that Nvidia is providing the hardware inside Nintendo's next game console, which could have a tablet-like component to its design. Both companies may have wanted to avoid competition with the other.

Of course, there's no reason Nvidia couldn't produce another tablet design in the future—this is only the end for this specific product. One can only imagine what a theoretical "Tegra P1" would be like, but given the benefits that the move to 16nm FinFET fabrication lent to Pascal on the desktop, the concept is tantalizing.

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    • slate0
    • 4 years ago

    What I love about mine is that it includes a GPS Chip. Makes it a great tablet for car rides, along with the right adaptors.

    I bet the massive recall due to battery problems put a dent in their profits.

    • willmore
    • 4 years ago

    So many rumors. Anyone remember this?
    [url<]https://techreport.com/news/19124/pica200-graphics-core-at-the-heart-of-nintendo-3ds-handheld[/url<] Rumors of devices that never come to be and abandoned ones that did. Nvidia's mobile strategy in a nutshell.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      The Nvidia Nintendo 3DS thing wasn’t just rumors, they worked together for a while but Tegra underdelivered so they went with DMP.

      This time feels different, I think they’re more open to semicustom than ever before. Apparently the Tegra team was told to get a console win or gtfo, so they’re going to be cutting the best deals they can.

    • Krogoth
    • 4 years ago

    It is because the Shield was a big flop. It not only failed as a portable gaming device and it also failed as a tech demo for Tegra family.

    Nvidia is simply cutting their losses and knows that their Nintendo contract will net far greater returns than trying to seize the portable gaming market.

    • DataMeister
    • 4 years ago

    And just when they were staring to make a name for themselves. I have seen a few recommendations this year (2016) for the nVidia Shield Tablet and decided to wait (since it was 2 years old) , because surely there would likely be a new model coming out soon.

    What is it with companies these days wanting only instant success and not being willing to “build” a customer base? TV shows get canceled after the first 8 episodes. Tablets get canceled after the first generation. Crazy.

      • NTMBK
      • 4 years ago

      Meh, NVidia doesn’t have the financial muscle to make Android take off as a gaming platform. Their handful of paid-for ports were nice, but only running on Tegra meant that they didn’t really grow the whole pie.

      If Android is ever going to be a serious gaming platform, Google need to step up. A genuinely powerful Android TV box, with big splashy ports of high profile Activision and EA games. It needs Madden, it needs CoD.

      EDIT: Hell, it needs some real exclusives.

        • Voldenuit
        • 4 years ago

        [quote<]EDIT: Hell, it needs some real exclusives.[/quote<] I agree, but it won't be AAA exclusives. Mobile gaming is trend-driven and commodity. The hits tend to come from unknown and/or unexpected sources: Candy Crush, Pokemon Go, threes, Clash of Clans, 80 Days, Subterfuge, etc. As Clash, Candy Crush and even (increasingly so) Pokemon Go show, longevity is fickle in the mobile world. And as Game of War showed, you cannot manufacture a hit, even if you hire Kate Upton to pimp your game. Because it's not AAA game-driven, I'm not sure how relevant the big publishers are. But the democratization of indie developers is a good thing, IMO.

      • modulusshift
      • 4 years ago

      It’s hardly the first Nvidia tablet, I’d actually extend that designation back to the Nexus 7 in 2012, then there was the Tegra Note 7, and then the Shield Tablet.

      I really hope this doesn’t mean they’re dropping the Tegra chipsets. A lot of good products have come out of those.

    • adisor19
    • 4 years ago

    When the A10 and A10X drops next month, Nvidia and Qualcom will be in a world of hurt. Nvidia is probably anticipating it and just giving up already on the high performance phablet/tablet market.

    Adi

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      Yes, I’m sure Nvidia and Qualcomm will be sorely upset about the number of iPad sales they could have made if Apple had selected them instead of Apple.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      Apple doesn’t sell their chips without a phone or tablet wrapped around them. I doubt many people are picking whether to go with Android or iOS based on who has the better chip the month of their purchase, but it’s a perk. So Apples excellent A series SoCs are kind of just orthogonal to what Android SoCs competitive landscape is like.

        • blastdoor
        • 4 years ago

        I suspect you’re correct that few people are picking iOS vs Android on the basis of the SOC — the days of “intel Inside” style marketing of a single component in a system are gone.

        Instead, I suspect people are picking based on brand, price, “features”, and overall performance experience. When it comes to overall performance experience, the SOC is an important part of the equation, but I suspect storage speed is becoming a big issue (just as it has on PCs) and Apple has really pushed forward with very fast (for a phone) flash performance.

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          Yeah, they were the first to move to NVMe on mobile and it doesn’t seem like anyone’s caught them yet, even nearing a year after the 6S.

          Gotta say, high profit margins do at least allow you to stay ahead of the game on things like that. Plus arguably the best per-core CPUs, making a high IPC core costs more R&D than throwing a bunch of small cores on a die and calling it a day.

            • modulusshift
            • 4 years ago

            I am *so* pumped for the next iPad Pro 12″ with an A10X. I actually kinda expect that could be the first computer to last me five years without wilting noticeably. The Air 2 is still overkill two years later, after all.

            • tipoo
            • 4 years ago

            What would make me hot is taking that A10X and putting it in an actively cooled Apple TV…Unfortunately would probably never happen as they want the best chips to sell their more expensive products, but it would sure be something.

            Per-core Twister already slaughters console Jaguar cores, imagine 6 of those on a die, actively cooled, with the GPU doubled with another shrink from the existing ~500Gflop SP highly efficient architecture…

            • blastdoor
            • 4 years ago

            Agreed…

            Though I do think they ought to be advancing faster, given those high profits. Aside from the A9 and NVMe, the 6s was a pretty lame upgrade from the 6 compared to the 5s from the 5. The 5s introduced TouchID and a noticeably better camera. The 6s introduced 3d touch (a minor, minor feature compared to TouchID) and a camera with more megapixels but no discernible increase in picture quality.

            It sounds like the iPhone 7 might be what the 6s should have been, and that the “real” iPhone 7 won’t come out until 2017.

            I wonder if this stagnation is intentional — a way to squeeze customers — or if it’s the result of difficulties meeting internal targets for some features. I guess I’ll hope it’s the latter, because that’s more easily fixed than the former.

            • tipoo
            • 4 years ago

            Yeah, I wonder if this is a one-of change, or like Intel they’re moving from tick tock to a three cycle stage, in this case I guess external revamp, internal revamp, minor revamp.

            • blastdoor
            • 4 years ago

            I guess there’s an argument that the upgrade cycle is lengthening for smartphones, so it’s not necessary (in some sense) to have a major revamp every two years.

            However, I think that Andy Grove was fundamentally correct — only the paranoid survive. Apple should not pull its punches. If they are able to introduce compelling new features in a given year, they should do so. They shouldn’t intentionally slow down. They should push forward as fast and as hard as they can. Anything less than that not only opens the door for competitors, it also dulls the wits of Apple’s employees.

    • cygnus1
    • 4 years ago

    Maybe since Tesla fired MobilEye, they’re ordering a crapload of the nVidia Drive PX that has a couple of Tegra’s in each one. I’m sure nVidia would rather sell them to Tesla in bulk than in tablets.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      Automotive is a rather small number of Tegras. Tesla projected 90,000 per year, times two for Drive PX with dual tegras, so 180,000 Tegras. That’s only as much as the dismally selling Tegra tablet sold.

      That’s not going to be their prime mover. I’m thinking NX.

        • cygnus1
        • 4 years ago

        Tesla has over 400k Model 3 pre-orders. I’m sure they’re going to go ahead and line up parts for those rather soon, if not already. That’d be 400k (800k Tegras) potential Drive PX units to deliver over the next few years.

        Obviously if Nintendo is using a Tegra, they’re going to move more units. But we don’t know what the yield is on the 16nm process so they could easily be supply constrained enough by both customers if Tesla demanded nVidia move fast to provide the first 100k car units (200k Tegras). That might prompt nVidia to scrub a new Shield tablet if they can sell all the Tegra’s they can make (or are willing to commit to making) and not to have to build complete tablets to sell them.

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          400K fully refundable 1000 dollar pre-orders. And the Model 3 isn’t shipping until late 2017, or historically likely even 2018, so not what Nvidia would cancel a 2016 product for.

      • cygnus1
      • 4 years ago
    • Voldenuit
    • 4 years ago

    Shame. I’m one of those Shield Tablet users, and have been very happy with my device, even if stupid Marshmallow makes writing to extsd a pain.

    • psuedonymous
    • 4 years ago

    Translation “somebody wants to buy a whole boatload of Tegra P1 chips, so all the ones that would have gone to our super-thin-margin product-show-off tablets are now going to a higher margin customer”.

    Regardless, I’d really like to see a revision of the original Shield, with an international release this time. There are no other devices that even come CLOSE to it in functionality. There are a bunch of very underpowered and unsupported tablets-with-crappy-controls-glued-to-the-edge available to import form small OEMs in China, or you can attach a decent phone/tablet to a decent 3rd party controller with some Frankensteinian case/arm combo thing. But no portable devices with an integrated comfortable high-qualtiy controller running Android.

    • torquer
    • 4 years ago

    The Tegra story is an interesting one. They weren’t by any means bad chips and the technology was interesting, but after Tegra 2 and a rash of Android tablets using them they kind of didn’t go anywhere.

      • tay
      • 4 years ago

      They sucked balls and Apple’s A series of chips crushed them repeatedly. Every Tegra (1,2,3,4) was shit, and even Qualcomm made better chips at the time.

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        Tegra 3 only sold a fair bit because it was a tiny chip and cheap. The rest never got any huge wins. They were using the Geforce 7000 series based fixed pixel and vertex shaders for a crazy long time too weren’t they? They only moved to unified with K1 iirc. So the GPU company was behind on SoC GPUs for too long.

        Then Denver, while interesting and a move in the right direction with its 7 wide front end, only did well in straight line tests and choked up on anything less predictable, so they didn’t have a CPU differentiator either.

        Also a lot of things trailed behind Apples A series including Qualcomms Snapdragons, but they never sell the SoCs without a phone wrapped around them. They’d crush it if they did, but they’re too interested in the higher margins of a full banana over just a chip.

          • TheMonkeyKing
          • 4 years ago

          Including the fact that many graphics driven Android apps had to be recompiled using the nVidia engines. So for many applications, either anything with the Tegra was prone to application failure or the very last in line to receive an appropriate build.

          I constantly had the latter problem when I was programming my Acer Iconia Tab. I got zero help from nVidia for any of my T20 questions.

    • melgross
    • 4 years ago

    Feh, the Tegras have never done well. Nvidia has always overpromised and underdelivered with it. There isn’t a single phone or tablet using one these days.

      • cygnus1
      • 4 years ago

      I don’t think they really work as efficiently (performance/watt) as a Qualcomm or Samsung ARM chip, so they just don’t scale down low enough for a phone or small tablet. But they’re fine in the Shield console, and probably will do fine in the car computer systems that nVidia is trying to pitch them in too.

    • YukaKun
    • 4 years ago

    Maybe it’s part of the ongoing rumor where Nintendo is going to use the Tegra chip for the NX?

    As in: “yeah, we want to use it, so don’t sell it on your own anymore”. Maybe?

    Cheers!

      • RAGEPRO
      • 4 years ago

      I did mention this, yes. 🙂

    • tipoo
    • 4 years ago

    Even if it does poorly for a Nintendo handheld and/or console, I bet a month of NX sales would eclipse every Shield product to date together. Some increasingly reliable sources are all pointing towards a tablet like device with detachable controllers on the side, that docks into a TV and is based on a Pascal Tegra. Unifying their console and stationary into one development target.

    The Shield line was kind of always Nvidias “oh crap, no one is buying Tegra” response, right? Both a tech demonstrator and a warehouse clearer. So with the NX deal very likely inked they probably didn’t need it anymore. Or Nintendo may have even stipulated they discontinue it as the NX and Shield Portable seem conceptually similar.

    iirc the Shield Tablet only sold 200,000 (despite being imo a great product), and that small numbers slim profit was also hit by them having to recall and replace 80,000 of them.

      • swaaye
      • 4 years ago

      That NV game streaming service gives me the impression that NV put a bit more effort into it than just dumping unwanted Tegra chips. And the GeForce -> Tegra home streaming thing too. I can’t imagine any of that is super popular though. It seems like a lot of different ways to gain some more ROI on all of their products.

      I like my Shield Tablet as a web browser and email checker. The CPU is quite fast. But I haven’t really done any sort of “demanding Android 3D gaming on it”. Nothing that won’t run on something considerably less powerful. The game selection is a joke for the most part, worse than it was years ago when some of the big publishers experimented and flopped.

    • RoxasForTheWin
    • 4 years ago

    That’s a shame, I was waiting to buy an updated shield portable. On the other hand, if the rumors for the NX pan out and I can play NX games on a similar device while outside I can swallow my disappointment.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      The above is only for the tablet, no? It doesn’t rule out the Portable, but on the other hand I can’t see them losing interest in the tablet but not the even more niche portable.

      If it kept scaling up with GPU generations it could have been breathing down this console generations necks pretty fast, possibly the gen after Pascal.

      But yeah, the NX sounds very Shield Portable-ey in concept, so maybe it’s the best of both worlds. Nintendo making good exclusives for it, Nvidia making the chip.

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