Although traditionally known for its gaming graphics for PCs and notebooks, chipmaker Nvidia is segueing into the mobile market with its Tegra 2 ARM-based processor.
Nvidia has reportedly received a smartphone order from Motorola as well as orders for use in tablets from manufacturers including Asustek Computer, Toshiba and HTC, according to DigiTimes. It has been developing the Tegra processor for almost six years specifically for next-generation mobile products.
While new HTC and Samsung phones are being delivered with processors from rival Qualcomm, the Tegra 2 is emerging as a player because it has up to 1 GHz of dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore capabilities, making it attractive for 1080p video decoding and encoding and support for HD web streaming formats. The Tegra 2 can also be integrated into lower power designs to deliver 140 hours of audio and 16 hours of high-definition video playback, Nvidia said. It also enables full Flash acceleration and next-generation 3D rendering performance.
Besides Qualcomm, Nvidia's other main competitor Intel, holds the lead in the PC market but is looking to branch out again. "The battle that is brewing is that Intel wants to get back into the mobile market,'' noted Chris Hazelton, research director mobile and wireless, at The 451 Group. "You'll see ARM chips from Qualcomm, Nvidia and others going up against Intel Atom chips for the tablet space."
Last week, Marvell, which used to be owned by Intel, introduced a triple-core ARM processor for smartphones and tablets.
Historically, device vendors have been loath to say exactly what type of processor they're using, Hazelton said, because they want to be ranked on their name rather than on individual components. Although it's still hard to compare devices' specs because of the different operating systems, form factors and processors, Hazelton said that "Any smartphone with a 1GZz processor is going to be a very high-end device."
The Motorola Droid 2 smartphone and Toshiba's newly released AC100 Android netbook are both powered by the Tegra 2 processor.