Nvidia Tegra

Battery life of 25 days of music and 10 hours of 1080p video playback. This is what Nvidia Tegra is built for. Tegra called ‘System on a chip’ i.e ‘computer on a chip’ processor is from the graphics giant Nvidia.

Ilustration of Nvidia Tegra

Ilustration of Nvidia Tegra

It has a CPU i.e ARM 11 processor, GPU, northbridge, southbridge and memory controller all integrated onto a single package with size smaller than a coin. The graphics processor supports Open GL 2.0 and 3D acceleration. It also support 3G, WiFi and WiMax for the ‘always-on’ computing experience. Nvidia is also targetting a subwatt(<1W) power usage for the chip.

Internal architecture of a Nvidia Tegra chip

Internal architecture of a Nvidia Tegra chip

Nvidia is will release two class of Tegra devices, Tegra 600 Series and Tegra APX series.

  • The key features of Tegra 600 series are:Up to 1080p HD video playback
  • Ultra-low-power GeForce GPU for intuitive and smooth 3D user interfaces
  • Integrated media processor for over 100 hours audio and 10 hours HD video playback
  • Image processor with advanced DSC and HD camcorder processing
  • Connectivity to support Web 2.0 and social media applications
  • Display support for up to 1080p HDMI, WSXGA+ LCD, SXGA CRT, and NTSC/PAL TV-Out

The key features of Tegra APX series are:

  • 720p HD video capture and playback
  • Lowest power for demanding applications like 720p HD video
  • 3D user interface
  • HD video playback
  • Ability to access visually intensive applications like mapping and gaming

Nvidia is working with Google and Open Handset Alliance to use Android OS on Nvidia Tegra. Microsoft has announced Zune HD that will run on Nvidia Tegra for better video quality and battery life. Samsung annonced that is working on a Tegra based phone. Nvidia is expecting use of Tegra processor in Mobile Internet Devices(MID) and Netbooks.

For more specifications on Nvidia Tegra visit Wikipedia.

The main thing I’m thinking about is will be perfect for an Home Theatre PC (HTPC) setup? Will it be able to replace the Nvidia Ion Platform?

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NVIDIA Ion Platform

Nvidia has introduced the ION platform, coupling NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics solution with Intel Atom processor.

Graphics powerful small NVIDIA Ion Platform

Graphics powerful small NVIDIA Ion Platform

Advantages? It can run video at full HD resolution of 1080p. Its now possible to play many games at better frame rates on an Atom processor, which were not possible with the older Intel 945 chipset platform. It’s also possible to use Windows Vista on an atom. With Linux based OS you now run Compiz Fuzion with all the 3D effects enabled.How about keeping you friends wondering, how your little machine can do so much with Compiz Fusion on Linux.

The ION platform has hardware accelerated decoding of H.264 and MPEG-2 formats. But all this will come at the cost of battery life. The use of this graphics solution is seen as a bottleneck on the battery life of current netbooks. Definitely, it’s not for those who just do a bit of word-processing, online surfing on their netbooks. Also gaming on an tiny 10-inch screen is not worth it. Though I guess manufacturers will bring in bigger screen based on Atom processors soon.

Ok, after all its dis-advantages that overpower advantages, why am I talking about this platform. May be because you can connect a bigger monitor you an netbook, and go gaming at your relatives house with all the gaming progress saved on the netbook.

The bigger arena I hope to see this platform succeed is the Home Theatre PC (HTPC) market, where low power requirement is big boon, but the requirement are not very high. There’s no need of a power hungry graphics card and processor. You think you will use this combo for you next Home Theater PC? Another competitor for Nvidia Ion Platform is Nvidia Tegra.