Nvidia ups outlook; Eyes Tegra 3 ramp, Windows 8 on ARM

Nvidia ups outlook; Eyes Tegra 3 ramp, Windows 8 on ARM

Summary: It's a mixed bag for Nvidia. It doesn't have enough supply of its next-gen GPU chips, but the Tegra 3 rollout looks strong.


Graphic chips player Nvidia raised its sales outlook for the second quarter and touted the ramp up of its latest Tegra chips for smartphones, tablets and Windows 8 on the ARM architecture.

But the company misjudged demand for its latest GPUs and is straining to get enough supply from TSMC, its semiconductor manufacturer. How Nvidia muddles through its supply issues will dictate its success in the ultrabook market.

The details emerged as Nvidia reported first quarter results that were hamstrung by supply constraints. Those constraints, specifically 28-nanometer chips, hurt Nvidia's high-end graphics chip business.

The company reported first quarter earnings of $60.4 million, or 10 cents a share, on revenue of $924.9 million. Those results were in line with Wall Street estimates.

For the second quarter, Nvidia projected revenue between $990 million and $1.05 billion. Gross margins will be about 51.2 percent.

On a conference call, Nvidia executives touted its Kepler GPUs, but noted that it will still face supply issues going forward.

"Supply is still constrained and our manufacturer is working their hearts out to catch up to our demand but at the moment he demand still continues to exceed supply and we expect that to happen for throughout the year," said Nvidia CFO Karen Burns.

The supply chain shortage meant that Nvidia's GPU sales were down 6.7 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter.

While it navigates the GPU chip issues, Nvidia is eyeing its Tegra 3 rollout, which is aimed at smartphones and tablets. Tegra 3 is in HTC's latest phones.

Chris Evenden, director of investor relations, said that Tegra 3 phones are shipping with 22 carriers so far. Tegra 3 lacks LTE, but Evenden said that limitation is only an issue for the U.S.

Evenden said:

Tegra 3 is ramping as we talked about before. Although we don't have LTE at the moment, LTE is predominantly a US-centric phenomenon. Outside of the United States, the big super phone upgrade is quad core. And Tegra 3 is the world's first quad core and it's even a special quad core at that with four plus one and it's got NVIDIA's branded graphics. Tegra 3 is the next major upgrade for super phones in Europe and in China and elsewhere and then towards the end of the year we hope to bring Tegra 3 with LTE phones to the United States.

On Windows 8 on ARM, Evenden said that he expected the Tegra 3 mix to move from 50/50 smartphones and tablets to more the latter. "My expectation is that phones would exceed tablets, but towards the end of the year, latter half of the year, the question is how does Windows and ARM do," said Evenden.

Topics: Windows, Tablets, Software, Processors, Operating Systems, Networking, Mobility, Microsoft, Laptops, Hardware

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  • Can someone exlpain to me...

    Can someone explain to my why the Tegra 3 architecture is incompatible with LTE? I thought one was a CPU/GPU combo and the other a Cellular modem of sorts. Don't understand why you can't mate the two.
    • Good question.

      The answer is that because it's an SoC chip, the cellular modem is likely built-in, and the Tegra 3 is not a brand-new processor either.

      If you watch the Taipei video where they announced Windows 8 on ARM, one of the guy talked up a Snapdragon processor that was built like this with the cellular modem integrated into the processor. Because ARM is RISC-based, they don't need as many transistors as x86, so there's still room on the silicon to squeeze in all these extra features. Chip makers don't just integrate the GPU with the CPU, but also the main features of a board chipset, and since ARM is for mobile devices, it's only natural to integrate the core wireless features as well. An SoC is, by definition, meant to be a single-chip solution.

      For LTE, NVIDIA is likely going to introduce that in either a revision update to the Tegra 3 that isn't currently shipping, or else in the Tegra "4".
    • They can -- they're talking about SOC w/integrated baseband

      It'll take until the end of this year/early near year that they have SOC's with integrated LTE. Currently, OEM's will need to use separate modem's in addition to the Tegra 3 (40NM arch) as opposed to other options like Qualcomm's dual core competitors with integrated LTE (cheaper build cost, much better power savings).
    • In reply...

      You can attach a separate LTE modem chipset to a Tegra3 SOC, but that would require increased power consumption, chip count, board space and cost.

      What nVidia are stating is that their current SOC components dont include an integrated LTE modem, but this feature is due to ship in new chips shipping late this year.
      • Well

        Isnt that exactly what the iPhone does? The basebad is completely separate from the SoC itself. The problem is that the LTE baseband in the Snapdragon S4 is based on the next gen 28nm chip (MDM9615) and you won't be able to get that separately for another 3-6 months. And even that will be supply constrained as that's very likely what Apple will be using in the next iPhone. So in the US, it's far easier just to use the Snapdragon S4, as there are fewer hoops to jump through, same board space, and no redundancy of basebands.
        Jeff Kibuule
  • hello

    the tablilet is so expensive ,,and i cannot play dota on it,
    qiang ma